Seabees at Work

Artist Robert Charles Haun devoted a large percentage of his sketches to the efforts of the Mobile Construction Battalion (Special), or the Seabees. They were the men that interested him most.

Before Operation Deep Freeze, he had painted murals for the Naval Air Station at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. Haun was given the honor of designing the MCB (Special) Emblem for Operation Deep Freeze I.

Click the image for a larger view.

1st Morning at Base Site - Little America V
Robert Charles Haun #43
Watercolor, 3 January 1956

On this inaugural morning at Little America, the men are laying out buildings to be erected by MCB (Special).

Base Site
Robert Charles Haun #44
Watercolor & pencil, 3 January 1956

The Base site looks toward the Ross Sea, ships and edge of shelf ice. A Snocat and a Weasel are poised to begin work.

Rear Admiral Byrd and Rear Admiral George Dufek
Robert Charles Haun #6
Oil on canvas, 1956

Formal commissioning ceremony for Little America V. Admirals Byrd and Dufek salute the flag before the men of the Mobile Construction Battalion's Honor Guard. Admiral Byrd is on the right.

Flag Raising Ceremonies 1000 4 Jan 1956
Robert Charles Haun #47
Watercolor on paper, 4 January 1956

Study for 88-192-F (above).

Same Spot, a Flag Ceremony
Robert Charles Haun #50
Pencil on paper, 6 January 1956

Laying Footing for First Building
Robert Charles Haun #45
Watercolor & pencil, 4 January 1956

The commissioning ceremonies began at 1000 on 4 January 1956. By 2200 the same day, under midnight sun, the Seabees had begun plowing the first footings for their home for the upcoming winter of 1956. The red flags on split bamboo poles mark future building locations.

First Building Erected by Mobile Construction Battalion
Robert Charles Haun #14
Oil on canvas, 1956

In conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Navy's Construction Battallion - the Seabees - built the first planned and continually used building in Antarctica.

MCB Specials 24-Hour-Around-the-Clock Building Program
Robert Charles Haun #57
Watercolor & pencil on paper, 7 January 1956

Study for 88-192-N (above). 166 Americans would comprise the "wintering over" party, many of them Seabees. The buildings needed to be completed before the Antarctic winter began. An ambitious building program like this had never before been attempted in such unique conditions. Much of the planning could not be done in advance; the men were winging it in many respects. As Deep Freeze vet Jim Bergstrom noted, "We were inexperienced; the password was improvise."

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