Operation Nanook 1946

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USS Atule during Operation Nanook (1946).

Operation Nanook was an Arctic expedition undertaken by the United States Navy in 1946. It consisted of USS Norton Sound (AV-11), USS Atule (SS-403), USCGC Northwind (WAG-282), USS Alcona (AK-157), USS Beltrami (AK-162), and USS Whitewood (AN-63).[1] The mission is mostly documented as cartographic in nature.

From 22 July to 05 August 1946, all activities in Operation Nanook centered around Thule; Norton Sound remained at anchor there, in North Star Bay, servicing her two PBM's. Meanwhile, Whitewood and Atule operated from North Star Bay as they conducted exercises and tests in the Smith Sound-Kane Basin area. On 05 August 1946, Norton Sound and Whitewood headed for Dundas Harbour, Nunavut and Devon Island, in order to attempt air and surface operations there. Unfortunately, the ships found the harbor iced over, with a belt of pack ice extending out three miles down the coast. The Northwind broke ice in support of Operation Nanook.

The mission

The mission was to erect a radio and weather station in Thule. It was built from wooden barracks on the Pittufik, a Greenlandish word for "the place where we tie the dogs", in a large glacier valley about two miles from the trade station North Star Bay, which the Polar explorer Knud Rasmussen built.

The station was to be operated as joint Danish/American operation, under the Danish colours and Danish supervision by a crew of twenty men, ten from each nation.

Regular weather observations were maintained as Synopsies, Pibal and Radiosonde.

The station was kept in operation until 1951 when Thule Air Base was built in the valley; the weather station was then moved to the Greenlandish settlement at North Star Bay, and renamed "Dundas", until the population was moved to Qaanaaq further north in 1953.


  1. "Operation Nanook: Baby it’s cold outside!!". Ship's Log: USS Atule. http://uss-atule.com/operation-nanook/. Retrieved 2010-09-22. "On 4 July 1946, Atule headed for the frozen north as a member of Operation “Nanook.” The purpose of this mission was to assist in the establishment of advanced weather stations in the Arctic regions and to aid in the planning and execution of more extensive naval operations in polar and sub-polar regions. In company with Norton Sound (AV-11), Whitewood (AN-63), Alcona (AK-157), Beltrami (AK-162), and USCG Northwind (WAG-282), Atule was to transport supplies and passengers, conduct reconnaissance of proposed weather station sites, train personnel, and collect data on Arctic conditions."  mirror

2. THULEAB.DK, The Ultimate Guide to Thule Air Base. http://www.thuleab.dk/

See also

  • "Operation Nanook 52." Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association The Bulletin (Nov 1952), pp. 174-177.