The Pourquoi-Pas sails out of Reykjavík Harbor (Photographer: Karl Christian Nielsen)


In September 1936, returning from the mission to Greenland to deliver scientific material, the ship Pourquoi-Pas IV stopped at Reykjavík to re-provision with fuel on 13th September. They set out for Saint-Malo two days later, on 15th September, but on 16th September, the ship was caught in a violent cyclonic storm and was lost on the reefs of Álftanes at Mýrar in Iceland. Twenty-three of the crew lost their lives in the wreck, and 17 survivors died before rescue arrived, leaving only one survivor, Eugène Gonidec, master steersman. Jean-Baptiste Charcot was one of the dead, aged 69. The Pourquoi Pas IV was the fourth ship built for Jean-Baptiste Charcot. She completed the second Charcot expedition to the Antarctic regions from 1908 to 1910.

Sources: Faxaflóahafnir SF & Reykjavík Museum of Photography