CIA Document Proves Operation Blue Book Was a Secret Aircraft CoverupPrevious Article
Going to Mars? This Astronaut Says We're Not Ready YetNext Article

Operation Highjump: When the US Militarized Antarctica

Line Spacing+- AFont Size+- Print This Article
Operation Highjump: When the US Militarized Antarctica
In 1946, the year after the conclusion of World War II, the United States Navy undertook a major military, exploration, and scientific expedition to Antarctica(1) called Operation Highjump.

The operation comprised 4,700 men, 13 ships, and 33 aircraft and lasted from late August 1946 until late February 1947.

The Goals of Operation Highjump

The goals of the expedition included(2):

  • Training personnel and testing equipment in frigid conditions;
  • Consolidating and extending the United States’ sovereignty over the largest practicable area of the Antarctic continent (publicly denied as a goal even before the expedition ended).
  • Determining the feasibility of establishing, maintaining, and utilizing bases in the Antarctic, and investigating possible base sites;
  • Developing techniques for establishing, maintaining, and utilizing air bases on ice, with particular attention to later applicability of such techniques to operations in interior Greenland, where conditions are comparable to those in the Antarctic;
  • Amplifying existing stores of knowledge of electromagnetic, geological, geographic, hydrologic, and meteorological propagation conditions in the area;
  • Supplementary objectives of the Nanook expedition (a smaller equivalent conducted off eastern Greenland)

The expedition was organized by Admiral Richard Byrd, who had led several Antarctic expeditions between 1928 and 1940 and was the first person to reach the South Pole by air.

Operation Highjump was led by Rear Admiral Richard Cruzen, who had participated in the last pre-war Antarctic expedition. Besides naval personnel, the operation included numerous scientists, including meteorologists, zoologists, physicists, and oceanographers.

The Little America Base

Operation Highjump established the Little America base and started aerial surveys of the southernmost continent. The expedition discovered, for the first time, that Antarctica had areas that were ice free and even had pockets of water. From a scientific perspective, the expedition was a complete success.

Naturally, such an expedition(3) the size and scope of Operation Highjump had a military purpose. The Cold War was just starting, and American military planners perceived that the United States might be vulnerable to attack from long-range bombers flying over both the north and south poles. The perceived threat would require an American military presence in Antarctica.

In the late 1940s Antarctica was subject to rival territorial claims(4) by a number of countries, not only major powers such as Great Britain, but also smaller countries such as Chile, Argentina, and Norway.

Even though the continent constituted the most extreme land environment on the planet, Antarctica was presumed to have mineral resources that might be exploited given time and effort. So, even though it has been officially denied, it is entirely plausible that Operation Highjump was conducted, in part, to establish some kind of American territorial claim.

The Cold War

The problem faced by American military planners was that a conflict over Antarctica would prove to be a distraction from the larger necessity of forging a coalition to oppose the Soviet Union. Eventually, under the Eisenhower administration, the United States decided not to pursue any territorial claims but rather to assert undefined “rights” for unfettered operations in Antarctica.

Eisenhower also decided that future expeditions to the southernmost continent would be scientific in nature, though with a military operational element. This approach was the basis of the extensive expeditions undertaken by the United States and a number of other countries to Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year of 1956-57.

The 1959 Antarctica Treaty(5) suspended but did not eliminate claims of national sovereignty. However, it did reserve the continent as a scientific preserve, prohibiting military operations and greatly restricting commercial operations. The treaty, which has been in force ever since, has successfully governed cooperation for scientific exploration and is considered a diplomatic triumph, being in effect the first arms control treaty of the Cold War era.

Originally published on

Strange History

The Skinwalker Ranch and Native American Legends

The Skinwalker Ranch and Native American Legends   0

The Skinwalker Ranch in Northeastern Utah, otherwise known as the Sherman Ranch, has a long history of paranormal phenomenon. This phenomenon received the most media attention after the December 2005 [...]

“The thing about the truth is, not a lot of people can handle it.” -Conor McGregor

Donate to Support TSW Research:

Top Secret Editors

Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
Lori is TSW's editor. Freelance writer and editor for over 17 years, she loves to read and loves fringe science and conspiracy theory.

Top Secret Writers

Gabrielle is a journalist who finds strange stories the media misses, and enlightens readers about news they never knew existed.
Sally is TSW’s health/environmental expert. As a blogger/organic gardener, she’s investigates critical environmental issues.
Mark Dorr grew up the son of a treasure hunter. His experiences led to working internationally in some surprising situations!
Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

Join Other Conspiracy Theory Researchers on Facebook!

Get a Top Secret Bumper Sticker!

Recent Reader Comments

Powered by Disqus