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Fram in Antarctica in Roald Amundsen's expedition.
Career Norwegian Ensign
Name: Fram
Builder: Colin Archer, Larvik, Norway
Launched: 1892
In service: 1892
Out of service: 1912
Fate: Preserved, currently on display at the Fram Museum, Oslo
General characteristics
Type: Schooner
Displacement: 402 long tons (408 t)
Length: 127 ft 8 in (39 m)
Beam: 34 ft (10 m)
Draft: 15 ft (4.6 m)
Propulsion: Triple expansion steam engine, 220 hp (164 kW)
Speed: 7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph)
Complement: 16

Fram ("Forward") is a ship that was used in expeditions of the Arctic and Antarctic regions by the Norwegian explorers Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup, Oscar Wisting, and Roald Amundsen between 1893 and 1912. It was designed by the Scots-Norwegian shipwright Colin Archer for Fridtjof Nansen's 1893 Arctic expedition in which Fram was supposed to freeze into the Arctic ice sheet and float with it over the North Pole.

Fram is said to be the wooden ship to have sailed farthest north (85°57'N) and farthest south (78°41'S). Fram is currently preserved at the Fram Museum in Oslo, Norway.


Nansen's ambition was to explore the Arctic farther north than anyone else. To do that, he would have to deal with a problem that many sailing on the polar ocean had encountered before him: the freezing ice could crush a ship. Nansen's idea was to build a ship that could survive the pressure, not by pure strength, but because it would be of a shape designed to let the ice push the ship up, so it would "float" on top of the ice.

Nansen commissioned the shipwright Colin Archer from Larvik to construct a vessel with these characteristics. Fram was built with an outer layer of greenheart wood to withstand the ice and almost without a keel to handle the shallow waters Nansen expected to encounter. The rudder and propeller were designed to be retracted into the ship. The ship was also carefully insulated to allow the crew to live onboard for up to five years. The ship also included a windmill, which ran a generator to provide electric power for lighting by electric arc lamps.


Fram was used in several expeditions:

Nansen's 1893–1896 Arctic expedition

Due to ship wreckage, most notably from the USS Jeannette, as well as driftwood found in the regions of Svalbard and Greenland, Nansen speculated that there was an ocean current flowing beneath the ice sheet from east to west, bringing driftwood from the Siberian region to Svalbard and further west. Nansen had Fram built, in order to explore this theory.

Nansen undertook an expedition that came to last three years. When Nansen realised that Fram would not reach the North Pole directly by the force of the current, he and Hjalmar Johansen set out to reach the pole by ski. Reaching 86° 14' north, he had to turn back to spend the winter at Franz Joseph Land. Nansen and Johansen survived on walrus and polar bear meat and blubber. Finally meeting British explorers, the Jackson-Harmsworth Expedition, they managed to reach Norway only days before the Fram arrived back there. The Fram had spent nearly three years beset in the ice, reaching 85° 57' N.[1]

Sverdrup's 1898–1902 Canadian Arctic islands expedition

In 1898, Otto Sverdrup led a scientific expedition to the Canadian Arctic islands. Fram was slightly modified for this journey, its freeboard being increased. Fram left harbour on 24 June 1898, with 17 men onboard. Their aim was to chart the lands of the Arctic Islands, and to sample the geology, flora and fauna.

Amundsen's 1910–1912 South Pole expedition

Fram was used by Roald Amundsen in his southern polar expedition from 1910 to 1912, the first to reach the South Pole, during which it reached 78° 41' S.

Preservation of Fram

The ship was left to decay in storage between 1912 and the late 1920s, when Lars Christensen, Otto Sverdrup and Oscar Wisting initiated efforts to preserve her. In 1935 the ship was installed in the Fram Museum where she now stands.

Named after Fram

Other ships named Fram

  • A ship built in 1958 and named after Axel Enström was later renamed Fram. [2]
  • Harald V, the King of Norway has had a number of sailboats for regatta use named Fram. He became world champion in sailing with Fram X in 1987 and is currently racing in Fram XVI (2006).
  • The Norwegian passenger and freight line Hurtigruten operates a ship called MS Fram.


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Coordinates: 59°54′12″N 10°41′58″E / 59.90333°N 10.69944°E / 59.90333; 10.69944

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