Exploration—for the furtherance of science, for national bragging rights, to fill in the remaining blank spaces on the map—was something the 19th-century U.S. Navy could proudly count among its undertakings. Such expeditions into uncharted and often perilous waters were, even without an enemy’s guns to confront, very much their own form of sailing into harm’s way. Consider, for example, the ill-fated Jeannette expedition of 1879, a voyage to the Arctic in a quest for its ultimate prize: to lay claim to being the first to arrive at the North Pole. The project, like the ship herself, had a bit of a hybrid provenance. Navy Lieutenant Commander George Washington DeLong, who had caught the Arctic fever while serving on an earlier expedition, joined forces with the legendary, larger-than-life newspaper tycoon James Gordon Bennett Jr. to make the North Pole mission a go. Sensing a golden opportunity and a great story, Bennett bankrolled the adventure, purchasing the three-master Jeannette, a former Royal Navy gun vessel customized for the rough conditions of the High North, and turned her over for the U.S. Navy’s use.