Whilst not a new book, The Ice Diaries is still a compelling account of a fascinating saga during the cold war.
36-year-old former World War II submariner Capt. William R. Anderson was given command of the world’s first nuclear-powered sub, Nautilus. Anderson had a dream: to take this marvelous vessel on a voyage under the polar ice cap and emerge on the opposite side of the Arctic Ocean.
Such a voyage would realize the fabled Northwest Passage and would establish a new line of defense against the Soviet Union.
Anderson (who died in 2007) and Don Keith, a broadcaster and author of 15 books, have written The Ice Diaries, which contains recently declassified information. Anderson reveals what ultimately sent Nautilus and her crew across the top of the world on an historic mission.
Admiral Hyman Rickover, visionary guiding force behind the nuclear submarine program, nearly killed Anderson’s chances of becoming the Nautilus skipper and later resisted his plan to go under the North Pole. It took the personal support of General Eisenhower for Anderson to gain approval for the mission.
Despite earlier difficulties, Nautilus set out from Pearl Harbor on July 22, 1958, on Operation Sunshine II. Equipped with updated compasses, fathometers and the highly sophisticated Sperry Mark 19 gyroscope, it made its way to the Bering Strait, between Alaska and the Soviet Union. Unable to dive in shallow waters, Anderson soon found himself dodging the ice.
Cruising at 600 feet below the surface, Nautilus reached the geographic North Pole at 11:15 p.m. on Aug. 3, 1958. It surfaced two days later in the Greenland Sea of the Atlantic Ocean. The crew were instantly heroes.
Anderson’s and Keith’s The Ice Diaries is a moving drama of adventure and courage and gives an insider’s perspective on a unique chapter of the Cold War