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Log Books of the United States Navy, 19th and 20th Centuries
General description, specifications and time line
USS Jeannette at La Havre, France 1878
(USNH&HC Photo, click images to enlarge)
Type and Characteristics - Steam barque or bark, ex-British Philomel-class wooden gunvessel Pandora, built by Pembroke Dockyard, laid down 30 March 1860, launched 7 February 1861, commissioned September 1861, 570 long tons, 145ft long x 24ft 4in beam x 13ft draft, 8-11kts, originally 60 crew. Sold in 1875 to Sir Allan Young for Arctic exploration, then in 1878 to James G Bennett of the NY Herald and renamed Jeannette. Bennett obtained US Government help to fit her out for a Polar Expedition. She sailed with 30 officers and men (28 in some sources) and 3 civilians, as a privately-owned ship but under US Navy orders.
Log Period and Areas of Service - 1879-81, Arctic Exploring Expedition under George Washington DeLong.
Summary of Service and Fate, c1881
8 July 1879 - Departed San Francisco. As well as aiming to reach the North Pole via the Bering Strait and carry out scientific observations on passage, Lieutenant Commander George W DeLong was also ordered to search for the long overdue Vega polar expedition.
27 August 1879 - Headed north from St. Lawrence Bay, Siberia.
4 September 1879 - Sighted Herald Island. Soon after caught in the pack ice and drifted northwest for the next 21 months.
1879-81 - Drifting with the ice in the general direction of the North Pole.
May 1881 - Two islands discovered, named Jeannette and Henrietta.
12 June 1881 - Ice started to crush the ship. The crew unloaded equipment and supplies and next morning she sank. DeLong and his men then started hauling their three supply-filled boats over the ice towards the Lena River Delta. ........ The story continues in outline in the woodcuts below.
The Expedition's Cruel Fate in Woodcuts, engraved by George T Andrew
from "The Voyage of the Jeannette ...", edited by Emma DeLong, published in 1884.
A general note on the sources.