Karluk

Karluk, whaling ship, 251 t, 39 m long, sunk in the Arctic Ocean 11 January 1914. Eleven of the 25 survivors died before rescue from Wrangel Island on 7 September 1914. The loss of these men and the ship caused a half-century of dispute about the leadership and technical skills of Vilhjalmur STEFANSSON, leader of the CANADIAN ARCTIC EXPEDITION of 1913, and Robert Bartlett, captain of the Karluk.

The Karluk was trapped by ice in the Beaufort Sea 300 km short of the planned base, HERSCHEL ISLAND. While Stefansson was away hunting seals, the weather changed and the ship was carried westward towards Siberia for 4 months until crushed by ice. The shipboard group occupied themselves with hunting for meat and making winter clothing, which had not been previously issued, and, according to one report, the 12 scientists and officers had only 9 bowls, 7 mugs and 10 seats between them.

After sending out 4 scouts, who disappeared, the Karluk survivors took 6 weeks to walk 128 km to Wrangel Island. Six days later, Captain Bartlett left with one Inuk to get help and eventually reached the Russian port of Cape North, travelling 1120 km on foot. During the 6 months the others waited for rescue, more men died. There were quarrels about food, tobacco and ammunition, and one death by gunshot - it was never determined whether it was suicide or murder.