This article was written by Rear Admiral George J. Dufek, USN (retired) with Joseph E. Oglesby, JOC, USN. It was originally published as “Operation Deepfreeze Fits Out” in the March 1956 issue of Proceedings magazine.
When President Eisenhower announced a renewal of American interest in the Antarctic early last year, he gave the Department of Defense the responsibility for supporting American scientists in the greatest American undertaking in the barren history of the Antarctic.
Considering the complexities involved, it immediately became apparent that the Navy would draw the bid as the Defense agency best qualified to undertake the four-year task. At a point some eleven thousand miles south of Boston, the Navy had to build three permanent bases (one of them by airdrop at the South Pole) and an air operating facility big enough to handle four-engine planes. It had to ferry thousands of tons of scientific supplies, countless gallons of gasoline and other fuels, plus construction equipment including thirty-ton tractors, and a bewildering variety of equipment and provisions to aid the scientists during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) from July, 1957, through December, 1958.
The Navy had to begin moving early in 1955 to be prepared for the great scientific venture. Task Force 43 was formed under the Commander in Chief, U. S. Atlantic Fleet, as the support force for American participation in the year of science.