For six years, a small team of Norwegians has worked tirelessly to recover a famous shipwreck in the remote hamlet of Cambridge Bay in Nunavut, a northern territory of Canada—and as of Saturday, they were finally able to lift it off the ocean floor thanks in large part to giant sausage-shaped balloons. "This is a milestone," Jan Wanggaard, project manager for the Norway-based organization Maud Returns Home, tells the CBC. "To actually see her releasing from the seabed—it's a great experience." He says he was in the water inflating one of the balloons when it first lifted off the seabed and the water became dusty. "I thought, 'Ah, that's a bit strange,'" he says. "I came to the surface and I saw my friend with a big smile."
The Maud belonged to Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen, who failed to cross the North Pole between 1918 and 1920, then went bankrupt and sold the ship to the Hudson Bay Company. From there, it was put to use as a floating warehouse before sinking off Cambridge Bay in 1930. Wanggaard hopes to return the Maud to Norway, where Amundsen remains a national hero, before cleaning it up and putting it on display, reports Nunatsiaq Online. For now, the team plans to fully lift the nearly 600,000-pound vessel by sinking a barge beneath the Maud, draining the barge's water tanks to make it float, and bringing it safely to the surface on the barge, giving it a chance to dry out over the winter before a return trip home. "If you were a kid, I’m sure you would love [the challenge]," Wanggaard says. (Check out this summer's South Pole rescue attempt.)