Operation Highjump was the largest expedition ever mounted to the Antarctic. Was it meant to wipe out the third reich's presence?
Operation Highjump, officially titled 'the United States navy Antarctic developments program, 1946-47', was a United States navy operation organized (coincidentally?) by rear admiral Richard Byrd in Antarctica under the command of Richard Cruzen. It was launched on 26 August 1946 and ended abruptly in late February 1947, six months earlier than planned because of a sinking and heavy damaging of the ships and heavy losses of the airplanes undisclosed even today. What had happened? The massive Antarctic task force 68 included, 14 ships, multiple airplanes, 4.700 men and 3.500 marines. The official stated claims of the operation were as follows:
To test material and train personnel in the frigid zones.
To consolidate and extend American sovereignty over the largest practical area of the Antarctic continent.
To determine the feasibility of establishing and maintaining bases in the Antarctic and to investigate possible base sites.
To develop techniques for establishing and maintaining air bases on the ice, with particular attention to the later applicability of such techniques to operations in the interior of Greenland (where, it was then believed, climatic and physical conditions resembled those in Antarctica).
To expand existing knowledge of electromagnetic, hydrographic, geographic, geological and meteorological conditions in the area.
However, the choice of ships and fleet size is extremely suspicious. The actual fleet included the following ships:
Seaplane tender 'Currituck' with Martin Mariner flying boats
Eastern group commanded by captain George Dufek
Seaplane tender 'Pine island' with Martin Mariner flying boats
Central troop group
Command ship 'Mount Olympus'
Icebreaker 'Burton island'
Torpedo boat 'Maddox' (or 'Murdoch')
The airplane carrier 'Philippine sea' also participated, although it was not assigned to any of the groups. Understandably the need for ice breakers, supply ships, seaplane tenders and communication ships are necessary for such an operation but the use of two destroyers, one torpedo boat, an airplane carrier with Chance-Vought Corsair fighters and a submarine is somewhat dubious if all they set out to do is carry out surveys. Were they expecting penguins firing artillery?
Operation Highjump has become a topic among U.F.O. conspiracy theorists, who claim it was a covert U.S. military operation to conquer alleged secret underground German nazi facilities in Antarctica including base 211 and capture the Vril flying disks or Thule mercury powered spaceship prototypes. Many conspiracy articles and discussions examine a postwar encounter reported near a British Antarctic camp with uniformed Germans in an ice cave, when considered in the context that several German U-boats, a large amount of building supplies and German scientists identified by operation Paperclip were still unaccounted for, this adds credibility to the possibility of a German nazi base and a real motive for the subsequent operation. Operation Highjump remains one of the few postwar operations with documents still classified by the military.
Admiral Richard Byrd had stated: "I don't want to frighten anyone unduly but it is a bitter reality that in the case of a new war, the continental United States will be attacked by airplanes flying in from one or both poles at incredible speeds".
Chance-Vought F4U Corsair 1942
Martin 162 PBM-3 Mariner 1939