CGS Arctic at anchor at Pond Inlet in 1923
NamesakeCarl Friedrich Gauss
BuilderHowaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, Kiel
Cost500,000 marks
Launched2 April 1901
In service1901
Out of service1903
FateSold to Canada, 1904
Acquiredby purchase, 1904
In service1904
Out of service1925
FateAbandoned, 1925
General characteristics
TypePolar exploration vessel
Tonnage762 GRT
Displacement1,442 long tons (1,465 t)
Length46 m (150 ft 11 in)
Beam11 m (36 ft 1 in)
Draught4.8 m (15 ft 9 in)
Ice classA1
Propulsion1 × 325 hp (242 kW) auxiliary triple expansion steam engine, single screw
Sail plan
Speed7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph)
Capacity700 tons of stores

Gauss was a ship built in Germany specially for polar exploration, named after the mathematician and physical scientist Carl Friedrich Gauss. Purchased by Canada in 1904, the vessel was renamed CGS Arctic. As Arctic, the vessel made annual trips to the Canadian Arctic until 1925. The ship's fate is disputed among the sources, but all claim that by the mid-1920s, the vessel was out of service.

Ship construction

Postcard showing the construction of Gauss

The ship was built by the Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft shipyard at Kiel[2] at a cost of 500,000 marks.[3] Launched on 2 April 1901[1] she was modelled on Fridtjof Nansen's ship Fram, and rigged as a barquentine.[4] Displacing 1,442 long tons (1,465 t),[5] Gauss had a tonnage of 762 gross register tons (GRT).[6] The ship was 46 m (150 ft 11 in) long, 11 m (36 ft 1 in) in the beam, with a draught of 4.8 m (15 ft 9 in).[1][a] With a 325 hp (242 kW)[3] triple expansion steam engine driving one screw to augment the sails, she was capable of 7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph).[1][7][b]

Classed "A1" by Germanischer Lloyds, she was designed to carry 700 tons of stores, enough to make her self-sufficient for up to three years with a crew of 30 aboard. The hull was exceptionally strong, and the rudder and propeller were designed to be hoisted aboard for inspection or repairs.[2]

Ship history

Aerial view of Gauss in the ice during the German Antarctic Expedition taken using a tethered balloon

Between 1901 and 1903 Gauss explored the Antarctic in the Gauss expedition under the leadership of Erich von Drygalski.

In early 1904 the ship was purchased by the Canadian government under the advice of Joseph-Elzéar Bernier, who had surveyed the ship before the acquisition. The ship was renamed Arctic and under the command of Bernier she explored the Arctic Archipelago. Bernier and Arctic made annual expeditions to Canada's north.[7] On 1 July 1909, Bernier, without government approval, claimed the entire area between Canada's eastern and western borders all the way to the North Pole.[8] Bernier only left the ship during the First World War, returning to command Arctic again from 1922 to 1925.[7] The vessel's end is not agreed upon. According to, Arctic was abandoned in 1925 and left to rot at her moorings.[1] Maginley and Collin claim the vessel was broken up in 1926 while the Miramar Ship Index say the ship was abandoned in 1927.[6][7]

See also


  1. ^ The Miramar Ship Index and Maginley and Collin have the ship's length between perpendiculars as 50.4 m (165.4 ft) and its beam as 11.3 m (37.1 ft).[6][7]
  2. ^ Maginley and Collin have the vessel's engine rated at 44 hp (33 kW) (nominal).


  1. ^ a b c d e "Expeditionsschiff (Barkentine) Gauss". (in German). 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  2. ^ a b Appleton, Thomas E. (2012). "Usque Ad Mare – The Last Phase of Wooden Shipbuilding". Canadian Coast Guard. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  3. ^ a b "German National Antarctic Expedition 1901–03". 2012. Archived from the original on 28 May 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  4. ^ Mill, Hugh Robert (1905). "Chapter XX: Early Expeditions of the Twentieth Century". The Siege Of The South Pole : The Story of Antarctic Exploration. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  5. ^ Stephenson, Robert B. (2010). "Antarctic Ship". Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  6. ^ a b c "Gauss (1116992)". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e Maginley, Charles D.; Collin, Bernard (2001). The Ships of Canada's Marine Services. St. Catharines, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing Limited. p. 30. ISBN 1-55125-070-5.
  8. ^ MacEachern, Alan (2010). "J.E. Bernier's Claims to Fame" (PDF). Scientia Canadensis: Canadian Journal of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. Ottawa: Canadian Science and Technology Historical Association. 33 (2): 43–73. doi:10.7202/1006150ar. ISSN 0829-2507. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 June 2019. Retrieved 3 August 2012.

Further reading