Archive for the 'Arctic' Category

Feb 1

February 1, 1955: Task Force 43 Commissioned to Plan and Execute Operation Deepfreeze

Friday, February 1, 2013 1:00 AM
A Dog Team Trail Party leaves the unloading area at McMurdo Sound for a reconnaissance trip.

A Dog Team Trail Party leaves the unloading area at McMurdo Sound for a reconnaissance trip.


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.

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Aug 12

USS Nautilus

Sunday, August 12, 2012 12:28 PM

The crew of the USS Nautilus stand quarters for muster as she enters New York harbor on her return from England after making the trans-polar voyage under the arctic ice.

On August 12, 1958, the USS Nautilus arrived in Portland, England, after completing the first submerged under ice cruise from Pacific to Atlantic oceans. This cruise earned the Nautilus the Presidential Unit Citation, becoming the first ship to receive the award in peace time. The following article, published in the November 1955 issue of Proceedings, gives an account of the training the crew of the Nautilus went through before launching the first nuclear powered submarine, and making the historic under-ice cruise.

Map showing the route of the Nautilus under the Arctic sea ice.



THE Nautilus had been long a-building. During the greater part of her design, development and construction, she had been much in the public eye; the subject of many articles, both technical and visionary. During the past year the “labor pains” had begun in earnest and the “birth” of the first nuclear powered ship was fast approaching.

This article will be neither technical nor visionary, but will attempt to re-create the pre-commissioning story of the Nautilus as her crew saw it.

The author first became involved with the Nautilus and nuclear propulsion in October of 1953, about four months before the ship was launched. The story since that date is told first hand. The story prior to that date­and many years of hard work by many, many people went into it-is of necessity not first hand. However, mine was the job of Executive Officer on the Nautilus. This job has been a broadening one, with liberal and technical educations included, and it has permitted me to meet and learn to know most of the principals in the story of the Nautilus which follows. Read the rest of this entry »

May 9

First Flight Over the North Pole

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 2:47 PM

May 9th, 1926

LCDR Richard Byrd and Chief Machinist Mate Floyd Bennett fly over the North Pole

Fifteen years after Robert Peary claimed to have reached the North Pole, Richard E. Byrd, along with his pilot, Floyd Bennett, became the first men to fly over the pole. Because the North Pole lies within the Arctic Ocean, rather than upon a fixed landmass, its exact location cannot be precisely determined. Thus Byrd’s observations and recordings, much like Peary’s, were subject to intense scrutiny from scientists and mathematicians before he could lay claim to his achievement. Both Byrd and Bennett received the Congressional Medal of Honor for their feat, and Byrd later went on to become the first man to fly over the South Pole as well.

A few months after Byrd’s Arctic flight, the August 1926 issue of Proceedings contained an article reprinted from the New York Times about the verification of Byrd’s claims by the National Geographic Society, which demonstrated the success of his mission. The article is excerpted below:

New York Times, 30 June, 1926.—Lieutenant Commander Richard E. Byrd arrived at the North Pole “very close” to nine hours three minutes Greenwich civil time on May 9, the committee of experts named by the National Geographic Society finds after a careful examination of his data. Read the rest of this entry »