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Originally posted by Phage
reply to post by Regenstorm
Yes, it's interesting the story didn't get more coverage, being wartime and all.
Perhaps it wasn't a Nazi repair shop at all. While there isn't anyplace called Deception Bay in Antarctica, the article is probably referring to Deception Island. Perhaps it was a whaling station which was destroyed in order to prevent Nazi's from utilizing it. Even back then the MSM could screw a story up.
Admiral Byrd's comments in his press release of November 12, 1946, stated that " . . . the purposes of the operation are primarily of a military nature, that is to train naval personnel and to test ships, planes and equipment under frigid zone conditions. . . A major purpose of the expedition is to learn how the Navy's standard, everyday equipment will perform under everyday conditions".
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".
The ships of the Central Group took various routes on the homeward journey. The USS MERRICK received extensive rudder damage from the ice floes and had to be towed by the USCGC NORTHWIND back to Port Chalmers, New Zealand, for repairs. All the ships had taken a significant amount of abuse from the ice. The bows and sides of the flagship and cargo vessels USS MERRICK and USS YANCEY became severely dented, as rivets were sprung and propellers damaged. Nevertheless, they all made it back.
On March 1, the final flights were made in the vicinity of Ingrid Christensen Coast. The USS CACAPON fueled the USS HENDERSON and USS CURRITUCK on March 3 and all three ships sailed for Sydney, Australia, arriving there on March 14.
Intentions were to land a party at Charcot Island but the shifting pack ice prevented any possibility. Vessels of the Eastern Group were ordered to proceed to the Weddell Sea on February 14, but unsatisfactory weather prohibited any worthwhile photographic flights. By March 4, the Eastern Group had departed Antarctic waters, arriving at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on March 18, 1947
Huge concerns were in the minds of planners as, for the very first time in Antarctic history, every vessel used in the expedition would be steel hulled. Steel is certainly stronger than wood, however wood tends to splinter in the viselike grip of pack ice while steel is usually ripped apart. It is true that Byrd successfully maneuvered the ELEANOR BOLLING through the ice pack and around the shelf in 1929, however the ELEANOR BOLLING'S hull was significantly thicker than that of most of the ships used in OPERATION HIGHJUMP. Compounding this problem was the fact that all but a handful of men were totally lacking in adequate training for polar conditions. As Professor Bertrand later noted, "Although personnel of OPERATION NANOOK served as a nucleus for staffing OPERATION HIGHJUMP, the much greater size of the later expedition necessitated the filling of many posts with men who had no previous polar exploration. It was possible to obtain the services of only eleven veterans of previous U.S. Antarctic expeditions. Only two pilots in the Central Group of the Task Force had experience in flying photographic missions". As a matter of fact, none of the seaplane pilots or flight crews had ever flown in Antarctica before. Only Byrd's personal pilot, Commander William M. Hawkes, had polar experience as he had logged hundreds of hours in the treacherous skies of Alaska. Extensive ship movements only made matters worse as the lives of many men and their families were suddenly disrupted, uprooted and shipped across country on the eve of the expedition. The USS MERRICK and USS YANCEY were attached to the Atlantic Fleet when in October they were ordered to sail for Port Hueneme, California, to prepare for the exercise. The MOUNT OLYMPUS, which played a major combat role in the war, and the USS PINE ISLAND had spent most of their lives in the Pacific Fleet and now were suddenly ordered to the Atlantic Fleet for preparations. With all the turmoil, Captain Rees of the USS MOUNT OLYMPUS wrote in exasperation to Admiral Cruzen, "Details as to the nature of the operation are completely unknown. It is therefore urgently requested that this vessel be informed at once as to what special equipment, instruments, clothing, etc. . . the ship must obtain in the limited time remaining. The ship can not be considered a smart ship". The carrier USS PHILIPPINE SEA had completed its shakedown cruise only weeks before, yet now the ship and its crew were expected to launch the largest planes ever sent from a carrier deck, quite possibly under extreme weather conditions. The navy's new icebreaker, the USS BURTON ISLAND , was still undergoing basic sea trials and training off the California coast as OPERATION HIGHJUMP began. This meant that during the earliest and possibly most crucial stages of the expedition, Cruzen and his untrained men would have to rely solely on the USCGC NORTHWIND to get the four thin-skinned ships of the Central Group through the ice pack and into the Ross Sea. Not only that, but if any of the ships from the Eastern or Western Groups ran into trouble, only the USCGC NORTHWIND would be able to assist. If the USCGC NORTHWIND should become disabled herself, the entire Central Group could be left helplessly for weeks, deep in the Ross Sea, certain prey for icebergs and the crushing pack ice.
(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.
At the time, the Navy was best equipped for mapping of remote regions. Antarctica was not the only place they did it.
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