1959 4¢ Arctic Explorations
Issue Date: April 6, 1959
City: Cresson, Pennsylvania
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 x 10 ½
Color: Bright greenish blue
This stamp was issued in honor of two accomplishments – the 50th anniversary of Admiral Robert Peary’s voyage to the North Pole, and the journey of the USS Nautilus submarine under the polar ice in 1957. Peary’s expedition is shown with a team of dog sleds, traveling over the ice, while the Nautilus’ journey is shown below the ice – relating to the way the two expeditions approached the pole.
First Nuclear Submarine Travels to the North Pole
The USS Nautilus was launched in 1951 – making it the first nuclear submarine. The capabilities of the Nautilus quickly allowed it to break records for how long it could stay under water. In April 1958, the submarine began “Operation Sunshine,” with the goal of traveling beneath the polar ice.
On the first attempt, the sub was unable to find enough space between the bottom of the ice and the ocean floor. The second try was successful. On August 3, 1958, the Nautilus reached the pole. The crew encountered more difficulties – navigation became difficult once the submarine approached the 85-degree longitude mark (the North Pole is at 90 degrees). Magnetic compasses and other instruments became inaccurate. But with the use of specially designed equipment, they were able to complete the mission.
To reward the success of the journey, the entire crew was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation – the first one presented during peace time.