Polar Expeditions




America's First Expedition to the Antarctic, Charles Wilkes
In 1839 Lt. Charles Wilkes was appointed to command the United States Exploring Expedition. The four-year expedition included two cruises to the Antarctic in 1839 and 1840 >more


The Grinnell Expedition
In 1845 the British explorer, Sir John Franklin, set out to find the fabled NW Passage but became lost in the Arctic. The wealthy New York philanthropist, Henry Grinnell, supported an expedition in 1850, under Lt. Edwin J. DeHaven of the U.S. Navy, to find Franklin. >more




Jeannette Expedition 1879-82
Jeannette, a steam bark under Lt. Cdr. George W. DeLong, entered the Arctic sea from the Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea in the summer of 1879 with 28 officers and men and three civilians on an exploring expedition. By September of 1879 Jeannette was frozen in the ice. The ship drifted with the ice pack for two years, and was finally crushed and sunk in June 1887. >more




Greely Expeditions 1881-84
In the summer of 1881, the U.S. Army sent Lt. Adolphus W. Greely and a 25-man party to establish a base at Lady Franklin Bay on Ellesmere Island off the northwest tip of Greenland. The base was one of 15 established for an international program to collect meteorological, tidal, and magnetic data in the polar regions. >more




First Byrd Antarctic Expedition 1928-30
Byrd's goal on his first expedition to Antarctica was to become the first man to fly over the South Pole. Arriving in Antarctica in December 1928, the expedition built a base called "Little America" on the Ross Ice Shelf. >more




Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition 1933-35
R. Adm. Byrd was anxious to return to the Antarctic to continue his scientific data collection efforts. The expedition arrived on the frozen continent in late 1933 and built a new base on the Little America site. As part of the program for meteorological observations, Byrd planned to spend the winter at a base 100 miles inland from Little America. >more




U.S. Antarctic Service Expedition 1939-41
The United States Antarctic Service Expedition was the first expedition to Antarctica to be sponsored by the U.S. Government since the Wilkes Expedition 100 years earlier. >more




Operation Highjump 1946-47
For Operation Highjump, the Navy deployed 4,000 men and 13 ships, making it the largest expedition to Antarctica. R. Adm. Richard H. Cruzen commanded the Navy task force while R. Adm. Byrd was given control of the technical aspects of the operation. For the Navy, Highjump was primarily a testing and training exercise for cold weather operations. >more




Ronne Research Expedition 1947-48
In nine trips to the Antarctic, including the Second Byrd Expedition and the U.S. Antarctic Service Expedition, he had traveled by ski and dog sled some 3,600 miles - more than any other man in history. >more




Operation Deep Freeze 1955-56

Operation Deepfreeze was a plan to take geophysical observations at more than 1,000 stations all over the world >more