The "Polar Duke" is an ice strengthened vessel owned by Polar Ships A/S of Norway which specialises in providing specialist charter vessels. The "Polar Duke" was built in 1983 and since then has visited the Antarctic many times. To read an interesting story about the vessel and to see a nice selection of photos taken during her 1999-2000 Antarctic expedition to Northern Victoria Land click here
POLAR DUKE 1 1999 (November 27) Cover with ships cachet (bottom left) and Lyttelton cachet. US$3
Note: The above cover was posted on the day the "Polar Duke" departed for the Antarctic. It has been posted through the Ross Dependency agency in Christchurch. The blue ships cachet at bottom left features a design based on the Viking longboat design over a cadastral outline of the globe. This rubber stamp cachet is held on board the ship under the control of the captain.
POLAR DUKE 2 1999 (November 27) Cover with ships cachet (bottom left) and signed by captain. US$5
The captain of the "Polar Duke" is Norwegian Karl Sanden who has signed the above cover to the right of the ships blue cachet. He has been Captain of several ships in the Antarctic.
The design at right shows the crest of the "Polar Duke". this design was developed during the 10 year period that the "Polar duke" served as support vessel for US Antarctic operations in the Antarctic Peninsula area.
The above photo shows a Helicopters (NZ) Ltd Aerospatiale Squirrel aircraft landing on the deck of the "Polar Duke" in Lyttelton Harbour prior to leaving for the Antarctic.
POLAR DUKE 3 2000 (March 6th) Postcard of Balleny Islands with signature of Dr. Norbert Roland. US$5
The above postcard was signed by Dr. Norbert W. Roland, a participant in the GANOVEX VIII Expedition and several previous Ganovex Expeditions. He is "Geologieoberrat" at the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources in Hanover in Germany known by its shortened name of BGR.
The fuzzy view at right shows Dr Roland on board the "Polar Duke".
POLAR DUKE 4 2000 (March 6th) Postcard of Balleny Islands flown by helicopter. US$5
The above postcard was flown by helicopter HNX on an ice reconnaissance flight on the 7th December, 1999 from the "Polar Duke" to a position of 15 miles off Sturge Island which is the southern most island in the Balleny Islands group not far north of the Antarctic mainland.
The Helicopter was piloted by Helicopters NZ Ltd pilot Michael Hayton who is shown at right.
POLAR DUKE 5 2000 (March 6th) Envelope with ships cachets (2) posted on return to Lyttelton. US$3
POLAR DUKE 6 2000 (March 6th) Autographed Envelope with cachets (2) posted on return. US$5
The photo at right shows Captain Karl Sanden in his private office on board "Polar Duke" autographing one of the above covers. A total of only 16 covers was signed by Captain Sanden.
POLAR DUKE 7 2000 (March 6th) Envelope with cachets (2) posted on return. US$3
Note: This envelope has the large Rieber Shipping cachet with the Antarctic continent not shaded in.
POLAR DUKE 8 2000 (March 6th) Autographed & flown Envelope with cachets (3) posted on return. US$8
Note: The above cover was flown by helicopter on the 7th of February from off the "Polar Duke" which was positioned on the west edge of the Matusevich Glacier south into King George V Land to a position S70o20'.0 and E 154o 30'.00. The flight was doing Radar scanning of the 2000 meter thick glacier with radar operators Volkmar Damm and Dieter Eisenburger and pilot Michael Hayton who has autographed the cover above. the cover also bears the cachet of the GANOVEX Vlll Expedition team.
POLAR DUKE 9 2000 (March 6th) Picture Postcard showing Concordia Base picture US$5
Note: This postcard was posted on "Polar Duke's" arrival back in Lyttelton
To read reports of the expedition by Captain Karl Sanden click here
To see photos of this expedition and its return to Lyttelton click here
SECOND EXPEDITION TRIP
Following her return to Lyttelton, the "Polar Duke" spent a week being converted into a seismic research vessel for the German Novogimex Expedition to the Victoria Land coast of Antarctica with an extensive lot of equipment being installed including three new laboratories being installed in the hold previously used for storing the 4 helicopters. Photos and full details of this conversion can be seen here. Unfortunately the German Government Environmental agency refused to give permission for the expedition to take place in the Antarctic and so a back up area was used for the expedition. This back up area situated on the Tasman rise between Tasmania and the Antarctic is an area of new plate crust formed by the separation of the Antarctic and the Australian plates.
POLAR DUKE 10 2000 (April 7th) Signed envelope with Novogimex and ships cachets. US$6
Note: As can be seen on the Novogimex cachet the expedition was meant to last from the 7th of March until the 16th of April, 2000 however the "Polar Duke" left a day earlier on the 6th of March as it needed to first go to Wellington to pick up some Antarctic grade motor oil. The cover above is autographed by both Christian Reichert, the Chief Scientist from BGR for the expedition and by John Hargreaves, the Chief Officer of the "Polar Duke". The expedition returned to Lyttelton on the 6th April, a week ahead of schedule owing to the loss of scientific equipment.
Arne Sandvik - Captain of the "Polar Duke" for the second voyage south for the Novogimex Expedition.
Dr Christian Reichert (seated) the Expedition science leader discussing voyage results with noted Antarctic Philatelist, Klaus Arne Pedersen of Antarctica Services.
POLAR DUKE 11 2000 (April 7th) Signed envelope with Novogimex and ships cachets US$6
Note: Apart from the German BGR Expedition team, the "Polar Duke" was also carrying an Italian science party but when the change of plans for areas the ship would work in was known, the Italian party decided to leave the ship at Bluff at the south of the South Island where a special port call was made. The above cover is signed by the Italian Scientist Franco Cerrono and also has an Italian Antarctic cachet on it.
POLAR DUKE 12 2000 (April 7th) Signed Polarogramme with Novogimex and ships cachets US$6
The above Polarogramme is signed by John Hargreaves, the Chief Officer of the "Polar Duke". John is shown at left using the vessels Inmarsat in the radio room to upload emails.
Notice that the Company owners of the vessel changed name from Rieber Shipping A/S to Rieber Polarship A/S and this change is reflected in the ship's cachet which has changed in wording from that used on the previous expedition.
POLAR DUKE 13 2000 (April 7th) Envelope with new BGR Expedition cachet and ships cachets US$4
Note: This cover has the new expedition cachet which was designed on board ship by Dr Reichert to reflect the changed emphasis of the expedition. The new rubber stamp was produced in Christchurch within 24 hours and applied to all expedition mail from the vessel which was posted the day following the ships return to Lyttelton.
POLAR DUKE 14 2000 (April 7th) Signed envelope with new BGR Expedition cachet and ships cachets US$6
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