Fram – what’s in a name?

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Fram Search polar ship Amundsen Nansen

Fram Search is named after Fram, the strongest wooden ship ever built. Fram was used by the revered Norwegian explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen for their polar expeditions, and was groundbreaking in its day. Just as with our name-sake, we believe pioneering thought, attention to detail, and a robust but flexible culture are qualities to aspire to. We pride ourselves on being specialists, and in that too we take after our namesake.

Fram’s history is quite fascinating, and starts with the conundrum of how to force a ship through the brutal Arctic ice.

The Polar Ship Fram

Fram adj.ahead, forth, forward

Many ships had tried and failed to break through to the North Pole before Nansen conceived of Fram. Nansen had studied the remains of the American expedition ship Jeanette, which had been crushed in the ice and sunk near the New Siberian Islands in 1881, only to be found a year later by the Greenland coast. He related this to driftwood and earth from Siberia, which he had similarly found in the ice off Greenland in 1882, and theorised that a ship might follow the same drift to reach the North Pole.

Nansen wanted to build a ship “so small and so strong as possible … that it was improbable that it could be destroyed by the ice”. With such a ship he could prove his theory, and hopefully also reach the North Pole, or land near to it.

Fram Search ship

Fram was truly innovative in design and proportion

The plans for Fram were innovative in both design and proportions, and owe much to Nansen’s bold theories. Fram needed to be able to withstand the tremendous pressure of the ice for a period of several years, as its crew drifted towards the pole. The hull was designed to be lifted up by the ice and not forced under and churned to pieces, much like a round nut will pop up when squeezed between your fingers. Unfortunately for the crew, whilst the design proved successful in the ice, it also caused the ship roll most uncomfortably in the open sea.


Fram was the first ship specially built in Norway for polar research, and was funded by a grant from the Norwegian government and by enthusiastic private investors. She would be used on three important expeditions: with Fridtjof Nansen on a drift over the Arctic Ocean 1893-96, with Otto Sverdrup to the arctic archipelago west of Greenland – now the Nunavut region of Canada – 1898-1902, and with Roald Amundsen to Antarctica for his South Pole expedition 1910-12. Today, she occupies a unique position in the history of exploration, being the ship with the record of sailing both furthest north and furthest south of any. These records were achieved during the First and Third Fram expeditions.

After the third expedition, Fram was in a poor state, and underwent considerable restoration work, following a major campaign to save her. She was restored to the way she had been under the Sverdrup’s expedition, as it was generally agreed that this was when she ‘had been at her best’. Eventually, a permanent home was found for the proud little ship, and Fram is now housed and exhibited in the Fram Museum at Bygdøynes, Oslo

Fram Search polar ship

Fram outside the Norwegian coast

Fram Search polar ship

The crew spent several years on board on the long drift towards the pole

Fram Search polar ship

Crew member on the ice

Fram Search polar ship

Due to its design, Fram rolled most uncomfortably in the open sea

Fram Search polar ship

The expeditions included dogs

Fram Search polar ship

Life on board








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