To the Pole and back

Spa­niard’s Bay res­i­dent a part of Cana­dian ex­pe­di­tion to the Arc­tic


When Spa­niard’s Bay’s Barney Nose­wor­thy Ju­nior ar­rived at the North Pole in late Au­gust, he had a 12-hour win­dow to en­joy to the frigid splen­dor of the Arc­tic.

In truly Cana­dian fash­ion, Lead­ing Ship­man Nose­wor­thy, and his crew­mates aboard the CCGS Louis S. St. Lau­rent and CCGS Terry Fox, played a game of hockey.

After con­struct­ing a set of nets out of stain­less steel and net­ting on the trip, the crew­man and the sci­en­tists bat­tled for ball hockey supremacy feet from the Pole.

“It was Team Coast Guard against Team Sci­ence,” said Nose­wor­thy, 37.

The decision to play the game of hockey came almost a month be­fore reach­ing the Arc­tic. Nose­wor­thy and his crew­mates knew there was a 12-hour break be­tween com­plet­ing their work and de­part­ing for home.

On Aug. 7, it was de­cided the game would be played. When the Louis S. St. Lau­rent steamed out through the Nar­rows, there some 20 hockey sticks and a bright orange hockey ball brought on board.

“It was the most northerly game of hockey ever played,” said Nose­wor­thy.

The ves­sels ar­rived at a time when there is 24-hour sun at the Pole, mean­ing there was plenty of time for the game to be played.

The ice, five me­tres (16 feet) thick in most places, was the per­fect sur­face to hold the hotly con­tested match.

“(The crew) won 8-5,” said Nose­wor­thy. “It was great.”

There was a spe­cial guest tak­ing part in the game. Santa Claus suited up for the sci­en­tists’ team.

Again, in true hockey fash­ion, Nose­wor­thy and his jolly op­po­nent dropped the mitts.

It was the first trip to the Pole taken by the Cana­dian Coast Guard since 1994.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Nose­wor­thy.

Nose­wor­thy was not the only New­found­lan­der from the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion re­gion at the Pole. The sea­man was joined on the voy­age by Trevor Bald­win (Vic­to­ria), Vince Hearn (Har­bour Grace) and Paul Gilling­ham of Car­bon­ear.

“There are not many peo­ple that can say they were on top of the world,” said Bald­win. “I must say, giv­ing Santa Clause a Christ­mas let­ter/pic­ture from my 2-and-a-half-year-old son (Clark) was an ex­pe­ri­ence of its own.”

Their work

The ves­sels were not only there for play. There was also work to be done.

The Louis S. St. Lau­rent was one of two ves­sels, the other was the Terry Fox, to make the trip from St. John’s to the Arc­tic for the pur­pose of sur­vey­ing the area of the Lomonosov Ridge and the Amund­sen Basin.

Nose­wor­thy, along with other crewmem­bers, worked day and night help­ing the sci­en­tists col­lect their data.

The in­for­ma­tion col­lected would go to­wards sup­port­ing Canada’s ter­ri­to­rial claim to the Arc­tic Ocean. Rus­sia and Green­land are also mak­ing claims.

In 2007, a Rus­sian nu­clear sub­ma­rine placed a ti­ta­nium flag­pole into the seabed at the Pole. Chas­ing the fox The Louis S. St. Lau­rent brought a spe­cial friend on the ex­pe­di­tion to the Arc­tic — a stuffed arc­tic fox.

At some point dur­ing the voy­age, an crew­man with the Terry Fox snuck aboard the ves­sel and stole the fox.

While the St. Lau­rent trailed the Terry Fox, who was break­ing the ice, crew mem­bers would dis­play the fox in win­dows, on deck and just about any­where they could to taunt their sis­ter ves­sel. “They made a game of it,” said Nose­wor­thy. Try­ing to sleep The Terry Fox and St. Lau­rent were a team on the way to the Arc­tic. When one got stuck the other would help clear the way.

The con­stant need to cut through the thick ice made it dif­fi­cult for sleep some­times. Along with work­ing a great deal of over­time hours, Nose­wor­thy said sleep­ing through the con­stant crackle of ice break­ing was a chore.

“It was like sleep­ing through a car wash,” he said.

Be­ing a part of the first Cana­dian ex­pe­di­tion to the Arc­tic since 1994 holds a spe­cial place in Nose­wor­thy’s heart.

“It is some­thing I’ll never for­get,” he said

Sub­mit­ted photo

Spa­niard’s Bay’s Barney Nose­wor­thy Jr. stands with the New­found­land and Labrador Flag at the North Pole. He was a mem­ber of the Cana­dian Arc­tic ex­pe­di­tion that left St. John’s on Aug. 9 and ar­rived on Aug. 27. Be­hind him are the CCGS Louis S. St. Lau­rent (right) and the CCGS Terry Fox.

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