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Operation High-Jump

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In 1947, Admiral Richard E. Byrd led 4,000 military troops from the U.S., Britain and Australia in an invasion of Antarctica called “Operation Highjump”, and at least one follow-up expedition.

That is fact. It is undeniable. But… the part of the story that is seldom told, at least in “official” circles, is that Byrd and his forces encountered heavy resistance to their Antarctic venture from “flying saucers” and had to call off the invasion.

This aspect of the story was pushed forward, again, a few years ago, when a retired Rear Admiral, allegedly living in Texas, who had been involved in the “invasion”, said he was “shocked” when he read material from a documentary, entitled “Rire from the Sky”.

He allegedly claimed that he knew there had been “a lot of aircraft and rocket shoot-downs”, but did not realize the situation was as serious as the documentary presented it.

Operation “High Jump”, which was, basically an invasion of the Antarctic, consisted of three Naval battle groups, which departed Norfolk, VA, on 2 December 1946. They were led by Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s command ship, the ice-breaker “Northwind,” and consisted of the catapult ship “Pine Island,” the destroyer “Brownsen,” the aircraft-carrier “Phillipines Sea,” the U.S. submarine “Sennet,” two support vessels “Yankee” and “Merrick,” and two tankers “Canisted” and “Capacan,” the destroyer “Henderson” and a floatplane ship “Currituck.”

A British-Norwegian force and a Russian force, and I believe some Australian and Canadian forces were also involved.

Interestingly, the Pine Island (AV-12), one of the seaplane tenders involved in the expedition, has a rather colorful history. The USS Pine Island, a Currituck Class Seaplane Tender, was laid down, 16 November 1942, at Todd Shipyard Corporation, in San Pedro, California. It was launched, 26 February 1944, and given the commissioned name, USS Pine Island on 26 April 1945.

The ship served through the final months of the Second World War, and the immediate post-war period, but was decommissioned on 1 May 1950 When the Korean War broke out, the ship was re-commissioned, on 7 October 1950, at Alameda, California. She was finally decommissioned, for good, on 16 June 1967 and laid up in the Reserve Fleet.

But… here’s where the story gets interesting… The USS Pine Island was struck from the Naval Register, on an unknown date… Her title was transferred to the Maritime Administration for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet… on an unknown date… and… the ship’s final disposition is unknown… Now… how does one go about “losing” a major surface ship, over 640 feet long, almost seventy feet wide, with a displacement of over 15,000 tons? [see Rejoinder below]

The story, of course, gets stranger, still. The Pine Island is not the only ship involved in “Antarctic Research” or “exploration” to have disappeared. There were numerous others. The question is not so much “how many”, that is fairly well established.

The question is “how and why”… particularly “why”…

On 5 March, 1947 the “El Mercurio” newspaper of Santiago, Chile, had a headline article “On Board the Mount Olympus on the High Seas” which quoted Byrd in an interview with Lee van Atta:

“Adm. Byrd declared today that it was imperative for the United States to initiate immediate defense measures against hostile regions. Furthermore, Byrd stated that he “didn’t want to frighten anyone unduly” but that it was “a bitter reality that in case of a new war the continental United States would be attacked by flying objects which could fly from pole to pole at incredible speeds”.

Interestingly, not long before he made these comments, the Admiral had recommended defense bases AT the North Pole.

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