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Operation Highjump – Page 1 of 4

by Ned Harris (USCS # 3608)

The largest expedition ever to visit Antarctica was officially titled “The United States Navy Antarctic Developments Project Operation” but is known today as Operation Highjump (1946-47). The objectives of this operation were:

1. Train personnel and test material in the Antarctic.

2. Consolidate and extend American sovereignty over the largest practical area of Antarctica.

3. Determine the feasibility of establishing and maintaining bases in the Antarctic.

4. Develop techniques for establishing and maintaining air bases on the ice.

5. Amplify existing scientific knowledge of the area.

6. Aerial mapping of as much of Antarctica as possible, particularly the coastline.

Assignments of ships to this Antarctic Expedition commenced on 26 August 1946. A total of 13 ships were chosen and they were assigned to one of four designated groups. The majority of the vessels began sailing for Antarctica in early December. Over the next three months, nearly 5000 men participated in Operation Highjump. For the first time, modern icebreakers visited Antarctica and even a submarine was included in the task force to determine if it would be able to operate in Antarctic waters. Helicopters were also used for the first time in Antarctica.

Task Force 68 was formed to carry out Operation Highjump. RADM Richard E. Byrd (USN, Ret) was the officer in charge of Task Force 68. RADM Richard H. Cruzen (USN) was designated at the commander of Task Force 68. The Task Force was organized as follows:

Central Group

U.S.S. MOUNT OLYMPUS (AGC-8) [30 DEC 46 – 1 MAR 47] Flagship
U.S.S. YANCEY (AKA-93) [29 DEC 46 – 15 FEB 47]  
U.S.S. MERRICK (AKA-97) [15 DEC 46 – 16 FEB 47]  
U.S.S. SENNET (SS-408) [28 DEC 46 – 7 FEB 47]  
U.S.S. BURTON ISLAND (AG-88) [3 FEB 46 – 9 MAR 47]  
USCGC NORTHWIND (WAG-282) [3 FEB 46 – 9 MAR 47]  


Western Group

U.S.S. CURRITUK (AV-7) [23 DEC 46 – 12 FEB 47]  
 U.S.S. HENDERSON (DD-785) [24 DEC 46 – 1 MAR 47]   
U.S.S. CACAPON (AO-52) [24 DEC 46 – 1 MAR 47]  


Eastern Group

U.S.S. PINE ISLAND (AV-12) [24 DEC 46 – 10 MAR 47]  
U.S.S. BROWNSON (DD-868) [26 DEC 46 – 1 MAR 47]  
U.S.S. CANISTEO (AO-99) [24 DEC 46 – 10 MAR 47]  


Carrier Group

U.S.S. PHILIPPINE SEA (CV-47) [24 JAN 46 – 3 FEB 47]  


Note: Dates shown are periods below 60 degrees South
Source: Antarctica Service medal (USN), 9 Nov 66


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