RADM Richard E. Byrd (USN Ret.) - Officer in Charge TASK FORCE 68

RADM Richard H. Cruzen, USN, Commander TASK FORCE 68

George One/Operation Highjump Crew Recovery

As an original member of the Greenland Expedition Society I've stepped forward to offer the experience and equipment used to recover Glacier Girl to the wonderful families and great people like Robbie Robbins, George Fabik, Gary Pierson, Garey Jones and so many others that have kept this mission alive through sheer love and determination. I've offered to reunite the ol' Greenland Expedition Society gang and have the equipment built once again in an effort to get the Navy to reconsider a mission to recover these men for their family and for their nation. The Greenland crew is on board, the equipment ready to be built, the Ground Penetrating Radar crew including a geophysicist are all on board. JPAC, NSF Polar Operations, USGS, the US Navy Casualty Office are all very cooperative and even seem to be rooting for us. We're all but ready to go - with or without the Navy. The last remaining part of the equation is to get the Navy back on board.

If you'd like to help please contact me and I'll send you a word document letter that you can personalize and send to the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates and the Secretary of Navy, the Honorable Donald Winters as well as your Senators and District Congressional Representatives.

Lou Sapienza

Join the George One Crew Recovery Team

EAST GROUP   (Task Group 68.3)
Captain George J. Dufek, USN

Seaplane Tender

WEST GROUP   (Task Group 68.2)
Captain Charles A. Bond, USN

Seaplane Tender
CENTRAL GROUP   (Task Group 68.1)

CARRIER GROUP   (Task Group 68.4)

Aircraft Carrier

   (Task Group 68.5)

CDR Clifford M. Campbell, USN, Commander TG68.5, Little America IV

In the Beginning

Nineteen forty-six was an unusual time, both in the United States and abroad. Post World War II was a time of victory, a time of defeat and a time of recovery as the world would never be the same again. Former enemies became friends as former friends became bitter opponents. Difficult economic times of the Depression era, followed by a stifled economy during the war, had left the United States with an infrastructure much the same as it had been prior to those events. Nearly twenty years had passed since the Great Depression yet it still took a minimum of 14 hours to travel coast-to-coast by DC-3, DC-4 or by Martin 202. Our telecommunications network and transcontinental railway system had not materially changed since 1928, yet by mid-summer 1946 the country was busy building the foundation of a new America. Following the war, America was suddenly burdened with the responsibility of a Superpower, becoming a world leader in the political and economic arena nearly overnight. Americans from one end of the country to the other were becoming skeptical of their former ally, the Soviet Union. Soviet aggressiveness dominated events and discussions around the world as the cold war took root in that summer of 1946. The American people were tired after fifteen years of scarcity and sacrifice and anger swelled under fresh fears of further economic hardship. The administration in Washington was considered by many to be uncertain and fumbling. As a result, the frustration was summed up by the Republican Party with the catch phrase, "Had Enough?" The Republican Party took control of Congress in the off-year election that fall.

Meanwhile, the world's greatest navy was being taken apart, piece by piece. At the great naval bases in Norfolk, San Diego, Pearl Harbor, Yokosuka and Quonset Point -- wherever navy men gathered -- gloom and doom ran unchecked that summer of 1946. As worldwide tensions brewed in increasing fervor, a huge, battle-tested armada was being systematically decommissioned. Destroyers, battleships, aircraft carriers and dozens of other vessels were slipping into quiet backwaters alongside remote docks in uncaring ports. Surprisingly, most of the ships were less than ten years old, yet after a few short years of battle they were sentenced to a life of neglect and inactivity. The primarily civilian crews had no difficulty saying good-bye but the comparative handful of professional sailors worked feverishly to position themselves for the few choice service jobs remaining. By mid-1946 the United States Navy was rapidly becoming a shadow of its former self. To man the few remaining ships, the navy was forced to recruit young men all over again, just as it had done for the war. The young boys of 1942, now hardened veterans from fighting in North Africa, Guadalcanal, Sicily, Saipan, Normandy, Okinawa and Iwo Jima, were all too happy to remove their uniform and begin civilian life. The new crewmen were quickly trained in 1945 and 1946, while the navy wound down for an anticipated long period of inactivity.

Meanwhile, as sadness permeated the American naval bases, Admiral D. C. Ramsey, chief of naval operations, was in Washington signing his name to an astounding set of orders addressed to commanders in chief of the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. These orders would establish the Antarctic Developments Project which would be carried out during the forthcoming Antarctic summer (December 1946 - March 1947). Chief of naval operations, Chester W. Nimitz, code named the project Operation Highjump. Instructions were for twelve ships and several thousand men to make their way to the Antarctic rim to (1) train personnel and test material in the frigid zones; (2) consolidate and extend American sovereignty over the largest practical area of the Antarctic continent; (3) determine the feasibility of establishing and maintaining bases in the Antarctic and to investigate possible base sites; (4) develop techniques for establishing and maintaining air bases on the ice, with particular attention to the later applicability of such techniques to operations in interior Greenland, where, it was claimed, physical and climatic conditions resembled those in Antarctica, and (5) amplify existing knowledge of hydrographic, geographic, geological, meteorological and electromagnetic conditions in the area.

Tentative plans would establish an American base on the Ross Ice Shelf near Little America III, home to Richard Byrd's 1939-41 expedition. As Little America IV was established, a "systematic outward radial expansion of air exploration" would be performed by ship-based planes operating along the Antarctic coastline and by land-based airplanes departing from Little America. Although not specifically stated in the August 26, 1946 orders, a central objective of the project was the aerial mapping of as much of Antarctica as possible, particularly the coastline.

Signed Commander Cruzen

On October 15, 1946, Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, commander in chief of the Atlantic Fleet, appointed Captain Richard H. Cruzen, who participated with Richard Byrd in the UNITED STATES ANTARCTIC SERVICE EXPEDITION 1939-41, as commander of Operation Highjump. Admiral Mitscher instructed Cruzen to terminate the project when the ice and sea conditions rendered further research "unprofitable". It was "not intended that any ship or aircraft remain in the Antarctic during the winter months". Cruzens own orders were initiated two days later, centered around the construction and establishment of "a temporary base on Ross Shelf Ice in Antarctica" in order to "extend [the] explored area" of the continent and to "test material under frigid conditions". On November 20, only two weeks before the first ships were to sail, Cruzen released supplementary instructions which specified ship departure dates and movements, personnel and equipment assignments, and so forth. Additionally, another ship was added to the list of those heading south --- the new fleet aircraft carrier USS PHILIPPINE SEA --- with Admiral Richard Byrd aboard. She would have six R4D military transport planes lashed to the deck for land-based use at Little America IV. Admiral Byrd would fly an R4D into Little America IV and assume the role of chief scientific commander of the project. Before ceasing operations, Byrd was to make a flight over the South Pole. Although these were the stated plans and objectives of the project, the purpose and origin of the ANTARCTIC DEVELOPMENTS PROJECT 1946-47 was much more complex


Territorial Claims

From the beginning of 1946, as a numbed and war-torn world reflected upon an uneasy peace, Antarctica and the polar regions once again became a powerful magnet to human fancy. In January, plans by Lincoln Ellsworth were announced in the press for an aerial and ground-mapping exercise in Antarctica in 1947. Also in January, famous aviator Eddie Rickenbacker was pushing for American exploration in Antarctica, including the use of atomic bombs for mineral research. By late autumn, the Netherlands (WILLEM BARENDSZ) and Soviet Union (SLAVA) whaling fleets were operating in Antarctic waters for the very first time. (This first Dutch Antarctic whaling operation was conducted in an area between Bouvet and the South Sandwich Islands. Five zoologists accompanied the voyage for research on whales and birds). November headlines in the New York Times declared a six-nation race to Antarctica "set off by reports of uranium deposits". The article went on to charge that the British was leading the race by sending a "secret expedition" to occupy Byrd's 1939-41 "East Base" at Marguerite Bay on the Antarctic peninsula. Actually, the British had been active in Antarctica for a number of years. After the outbreak of the war, a few German trading vessels, essentially pirate ships, cruised Antarctic waters in search of potential victims. In January 1941, German Commander Ernst-Felix Krüder, aboard the PINGUIN, captured a Norwegian whaling fleet (factory ships OLE WEGGER and PELAGOS, supply ship SOLGLIMT and eleven whale-catchers) in about 59°S, 02°30'W. The PINGUIN was finally sunk off the Persian Gulf by HMS CORNWALL on May 8, 1941, after she had captured 136,550 tons of British and allied shipping. Argentina, a long-standing neutral nation, took advantage of the war to expand its territorial claims in the Antarctic. In January and February of 1942, Commander Alberto J. Oddera, aboard the PRIMERO DE MAYO, visited Deception Island in the South Shetlands and on February 8 Argentina took formal possession of the sector between longitudes 25°W and 68°34'W, south of 60°S. Possession was claimed for the Melchior Islands on February 20 and the Argentine Islands on February 24. The Argentine Government officially notified the Government of the United Kingdom on February 15, 1943, letting them know that they had left copper cylinders containing official notices of their claims at all three sites. In 1943, the British Royal Navy launched OPERATION TABARIN (Commanded by Keith Allan John Pitt aboard the FITZROY and Victor Aloysius John Baptist Marchesi aboard HMS WILLIAM SCORESBY), in order to establish permanent meteorological stations at Port Lockroy (Base A) and Deception Island (Base B). The cylinders previously left by the Argentine expedition of 1942 were removed from these two places along with the cylinder that had been left in the Melchior Islands. An occupation party was attempted, without success, at Hope Bay and subsequent investigations found no suitable site for a base on the Antarctic Peninsula. The expedition also visited the South Orkney Islands and South Georgia and during the winter of 1944, geology, biology and survey programs were conducted. This was the first of a series of British expeditions by the Royal Navy, Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey, and British Antarctic Survey.
In 1944 the Falkland Islands Dependencies Government was established and in December of that year postage stamps were issued for four of the Dependencies --- Graham Land, South Shetland Islands, South Georgia and the South Orkney Islands. In late 1944, OPERATION TABARIN II commenced with the help of a third vessel, the EAGLE, commanded by Robert Carl Sheppard. The two existing stations were relieved and a new meteorological station was established at Hope Bay (Base D). A hut was built at Sandefjord Bay (Base P) on Coronation Island in the South Orkney Islands (subsequently destroyed by a storm in February 1956). At the end of the war, the administrative responsibilities for the bases established under OPERATION TABARIN were transferred from the Admiralty to the Colonial Office under the new name, FALKLAND ISLANDS DEPENDENCIES SURVEY (FIDS). In the Antarctic summer of 1945-46, the FIDS established new bases at Cape Geddes, Laurie Island (Base C) and on Stonington Island (Base E). The following summer, the FIDS established sites on Winter Island in the Argentine Islands (Base F), on Signy Island in the South Orkney Islands (Base H) and a new hut was built and temporarily occupied in Admiralty Bay, King George Island (Base G). By late May 1946, Oslo had notified Washington of possibly reasserting its old claims to regions of the Antarctic and by the first week of July, U.S. Ambassador George Messersmith in Buenos Aires reported that the Argentine government was about to dispute Britain's territorial claims in the Falklands. A few days later Claude Bowers, in Santiago, Chile, informed the State Department that the Chilean government was furious over the sweeping claims of the British.

Adding fuel to an already explosive fire, the British released a set of eight postage stamps on February 1, 1946, commemorating their claim to the Falkland Islands Dependencies. The new stamp depicted a territorial map of the Antarctic, completely overlooking Chilean claims as well as disregarding much of Argentina's claim.

For the first time in history, an international crisis was brewing over territorial claims in the Antarctic wasteland. The dismal state of the world economy fueled heightened tensions on a global dimension. The advanced industrial nations of Europe had suffered tremendous devastation during the war and many of these countries envisioned Antarctica as a solution to their problem. The first to lay a legitimate claim could possibly extract an abundance of expensive, necessary raw materials. The formal American position on the polar regions had always been that they should be open to exploration and research by all concerned but in the wake of Admiral Byrd's formal announcement of OPERATION HIGHJUMP on November 12, 1946, Latin American governments became nervous and suspicious of the notorious American Yankee.

OPERATION HIGHJUMP was seen as a huge threat to future Latin American claims. After all, thirteen ships with 4,700 men seemed to confirm the notion that the United States had a plan of their own to seize huge chunks of the continent. The official press release by Byrd seemed to confirm their anxiety as OPERATION HIGHJUMP was justified as an "extension" of the United States Navy's "policy of developing the ability of naval forces to operate under any and all climatic conditions". A publicly stated objective was to "consolidate and develop the results of the US ANTARCTIC SERVICE EXPEDITION 1939-41". As it turns out, the Latin suspicions were correct. Initial approval of OPERATION HIGHJUMP was apparently reached at a meeting of the "Committee of Three" (Secretary of State, Secretary of War and Secretary of the Navy) on August 7, 1946. A memorandum prepared for the meeting stated that the "Navy proposes to send an expedition to the Antarctic early in 1947. The purpose of this expedition includes training personnel and testing material, consolidating and extending U.S. sovereignty over Antarctic areas, investigating possible base sites and extending scientific knowledge in general. Rear Admiral R.E. Byrd will be designated as Officer-in-Charge of the project. Task Force Commander will be Captain R. H. Cruzen now commanding OPERATION NANOOK , an expedition to the Arctic". One week after the meeting, Edward G. Trueblood, deputy director of the State Department's Latin American desk, sent a memorandum to the head of the European desk stating there was no objection to the "Byrd Expedition" so long as no territories claimed by certain Latin American governments were entered. On August 22, Acting Secretary of State Dean Acheson gave his department's approval to OPERATION HIGHJUMP with the stipulation that "in view of the territorial claims in the Antarctic of other Governments, it is suggested that the areas to be visited by the proposed naval expedition be discussed informally between representatives of the State and Navy Departments. . ." That discussion was held on November 25, only one week prior to the first ships departing. Acheson wrote the Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal on December 14 and told him of his "complete agreement" with the majority opinion reached at the November meeting and "that this Government should follow a definite policy of exploration and use of those Antarctic areas considered desirable for acquisition by the United States". Since the formal opinion of the United States had been not to recognize any territorial claims in the Antarctic, "in the view of this Department vessels, aircraft or personnel of the US NAVAL ANTARCTIC DEVELOPMENTS PROJECT 1947 are not precluded by prior territorial rights or claims of other states from entering and engaging in lawful activity in any of those areas or from making symbolic claims thereto or to newly discovered territory on behalf of the United States". Admiral Marc Mitscher, commander in chief of the Atlantic Fleet, was even more daring in his "Instructions for OPERATION HIGHJUMP " issued on October 15. "Objectives" included "Consolidating and extending United States sovereignty over the largest practicable area of the Antarctic continent". Perhaps the Departments of State and Navy had wished for major territorial claims, but the fact of the matter is that no formal claims were made by the men of OPERATION HIGHJUMP. It was not launched in a scramble for Antarctica's natural resources nor was it launched for the chief purpose of territorial expansion. According to news releases of Admiral Byrd's November 12 press conference announcing OPERATION HIGHJUMP, "The Navy strongly discounted reports that the voyage will be primarily a lap in the race for uranium. 'When this expedition was first talked about, uranium wasn't even mentioned. The statement that this is a uranium race for atomic energy is not correct', Admiral Byrd was quoted as saying. However, the basic objectives were not diplomatic, scientific or economic -- they were military. OPERATION HIGHJUMP was, and to this day still is, the largest Antarctic expedition ever organized.