Jason was a Norwegian whaling vessel laid down in 1881 in Rødsverven, Norway, the same shipyard which later built Ernest Shackleton’s ship the Endurance. The Jason was sold Italy in 1899 and rechristened Stella Polare.
In 1888, Fridtjof Nansen captained the Jason to Greenland in order to attempt the first documented crossing of the island. From 1892 to 1894, the ship was used on scientific whaling expeditions to the Antarctic, funded by A/S Oceana. The purpose of these expeditions were to map the presence of whales and seals in the area. During this mission, the Jason achieved a record of going the longest south in the area, reaching 68°10’S.
The ship was sold in 1899 to the Italian prince and explorer Prince Luigi Amedeo of Savoy-Aosta, Duke of the Abruzzi and named Stella Polare. Amedeo gathered an expeditionary crew of Italian and Norwegian civilians and sailed from Christiana on June 12 of that year. By the 30th, they had reached Archangel, Russia to load sled dogs onto the ship. Leaving Russia, they headed for Franz Josef Land. They landed in Teplitz Bay in Rudolf Island, with a hope to establish a winter camp for the expedition. From here, they established a string of camps designed to supply each other with food and men. During the expedition, Amedeo lost two fingers to frostbite, and had to hand command of the voyage over to Captain Umberto Cagni. On April 25, 1900, Cagni planted the Italian flag at 86°34’N, claiming the title of “Farthest North.” The Stella Polare was decommissioned in 1902.