Analysis | Operation Highjump 1946/47

REPORT ANALYSIS / “Operation Highjump – U.S. Navy Antarctic Development Project 1947”, by the US Navy. 1947, Washington DC.


“Operation Highjump” (1947) could be described as Titanic-meets-Roswell in terms of naval operations. A very public initiative with a nearly-obvious hidden agenda that supposedly ended in disaster but, officially, only a few deaths were reported (Fig. 4.g. point 12). It’s no exaggeration to say that Highhjump is, singlehandedly, responsible for the “Nazi UFO” craze that has been going around and here, today, we’re going to try to shed some light on the subject.

All the documents and figures are gathered in the bottom, along with details of some of the charts

You see, these are the actual five volumes of Operation Highjump’s confidential report and we’re going to dive into them in search for clues about what really happened.



This first issue I‘ll be addressing is context. The skeptics see Operation Highjump in the context of the Cold War. Still, it was authorized on 26 August 1946 by Admiral Chester Nimitz, only a year after WW2 ended. As for the beginning of the Cold War, the most conservative estimates claim it’d only start two years later. The Cold War “hadn’t happened yet.”

But what could be perhaps the defining evidence of this is the date in which the confidential report presented here was declassified: July 1952 (Fig. 2.a. – below). If this operation had anything to do, even remotely, with the Cold War, it doesn’t make sense it would be declassified in the middle of it (here’s something you can only verify in the presence of the original documents). If anything, the declassification date only proves that the context was, almost certainly, somehow related with the end of WW2.


 Operation Highjump

It all points in the way that the US have somehow learned of the exploits of the III Reich in Antarctica. They suspected something could be going on “down” there. Probably from publications like the one we’ve analyzed in a previous post from this series: “Die Deutsche Antarktische expedition 1938/39 – Erster Band.” – But that wouldn’t be enough to justify what happened next. That wouldn’t be enough to justify Operation Highjump. If I had to guess, or speculate, I’d say something must have surfaced in post-war prisoner interrogations. And not just one or any prisoner. I would say several, medium to high-rank and subject to counter interrogation.

“Are you “ground–speculating, like you did in your last post?”, “Why do you believe it was so?” You may ask.

Well, because in late 1946, the U.S. “decides” to launch Operation Highjump, the largest ever “expedition” to Antarctica.

An “expedition” that comprised of:

  • One aircraft carrier (USS Philippine Sea)
  • Two destroyers, the (USS Brownson and the USS Henderson);
  • A submarine (USS Sennet)
  • And several support vessels, ice-breakers, and tankers.

Over 4700 officers and 33 aircraft, on 13 ships (Fig. 4.d., 4.e. and 4.f. – below).

That’s why.

Slide33 Slide34Slide35

Does this look like an “expedition” to you? It was a full-fledged US Naval operation that took place in the southern summer of 1946–1947 under the command of Rear-Admiral Richard H. Cruzen, with Rear-Admiral Byrd acting as Officer-in-Charge of the Project (Fig.: 2.d. – below)


Its official objectives were:

(a) training personnel and testing equipment in frigid conditions;

(b) consolidating and extending United States sovereignty over the largest practicable area of the Antarctic continent (this was publicly denied as a goal even before the expedition ended);

(c) determining the feasibility of establishing, maintaining and utilizing bases in the Antarctic and investigating possible base sites;

(d) developing techniques for establishing, maintaining and utilizing air bases on ice, with particular attention to later applicability of such techniques to operations in interior Greenland, where conditions are comparable to those in the Antarctic;

(e) amplifying existing stores of knowledge of hydrographic, geographic, geological meteorological and electro-magnetic propagation conditions in the area;

(f) supplementary objectives of the Nanook expedition. (The Nanook operation was a smaller equivalent conducted off eastern Greenland.)

Byrd also said, in an interview (it’s on YouTube), they were looking for natural energy resources and mentioned coal as an example.

By the way, about objective (a): to justify an operation or an incident by claiming it was a “training exercise” is almost a joke these days. Even movies play with it (example: Iron Man) Of course, in 1946, people would not question it, I believe.

So, although it’s mentioned nearly everywhere that it was an “expedition”, those goals are definitely military. A “military expedition” then. Let’s consider that these are, in fact, the initiative’s goals. Does it seem necessary to you to send a force of nearly 5,000 men to attain such goals? We’re talking about sending a lot of people to possibly the most inhospitable place on Earth, in order to “train personnel and testing equipment in frigid conditions”. Wouldn’t 500 be enough? Isn’t 5,000 excessive? What about sending all those vessels of war? Does this make sense to you? Probably not.

As you’ll see further down, neither did it make sense to the US Navy base commanders interviewed by Rainer in the 1990s.

Let’s try to come up with a comparable situation. Say, the exploration of Mars. I’d say that, at some point in the future, there’ll probably be the need to carry out a similar operation, with very similar goals. Surely we’ll have equipment now that they didn’t have in 1946 but would it – ever – be necessary to take 5,000 men to Mars to achieve those goals? I don’t think so.

Unless, of course, they were expecting some sort of opposition.

A very public secret operation

The operation’s objectives were widely publicized at the time. There were 11 journalists aboard the Highjump ships. But the fact is:

  • If so, why would the operation reports be classified?
  • As I’ve shown in a previous post dedicated to the concept of “cover ups, due to the “Needle Eye” of this operation, it wouldn’t be very hard to hide a military operation from these reporters. If there was ever a confrontation against some other military force, it could have happened a long way from the ships where the reporters were staying at that particular time.
  • There isn’t even one picture showing two of the four war vessels together, meaning they could have split on arrival. Actually, the logs and the charts place the ships far apart (Fig. 4.d., 4.e. and 4.f. – shown above) and (4.l.1, 2 and 3 – below).

Slide40 Slide41 Slide42

Interesting facts in Operation Highjump’s confidential report:

  • In all five books, there isn’t a single picture conveying the grandeur of an operation involving almost 5,000 men. Not even 500 men. Or 50 men. The only “group picture” present is from the Army Observer’s report (Fig. 2.c.1 and 2.c.2 – below).


  • In all five books, the only picture I could find of military equipment was Fig. 2.l., showing an army jeep nearly buried in the snow.


  • In all five books, there’s not a single picture of the “USS Philippine Sea” aircraft carrier mentioned in the logs (Fig. 4.f.) or from the two destroyers, except perhaps in the page that comes after Volume 1’s cover (Fig. 4.b., further below / bottom). The report only shows the USS Sennet (the submarine) in Fig. 4.j.1 and 4.j.2, below.

Slide17 Slide16

  • The 5 books are filled – emphasis on the word “filled”… – with weather charts, the explanation of several scientific experiments and pictures of little or no interest.

It seems obvious that there were severe restrictions to the pictures taken during this operation. Considering this is an official US Navy – Confidential – report, it’s rather odd that it would not show more pictures from military activities – unless these went somewhere else other than the official operation report.


  • Taking a closer look at Fig. 4.h., point 15 on the page (below), it says and I quote “Strictly speaking, this was not a cold weather operation for severe temperatures were not encountered.” Obviously, since the operation was conducted during Austral Summer. That never made a lot of sense – now even less – what sort of “(a) training personnel and testing equipment in frigid conditions” – (quoting the operation’s primary objective) would that accomplish?


In Fig. 3.f. and 3.g. (below) the much fabled “Warm Lakes” are officially mentioned. Yes! This fact is interesting because it has long been denied. It also proves that there’s seismic activity in the Antarctica and, with it, the possibility of existing caves, tunnels and crevasses.

 Slide25 Slide26

It’s also interesting to see in the flight charts how the German territory seems to be deliberately avoided (Fig. 2.f.1 and 2.f.2).

Slide10 Slide11

Another rather intriguing fact is that one of the activities undertaken was “Underwater demolitions.” (Fig. 3.h.1 and 3.h.2 – below) Frankly, it’s hard to think what this could be without “submarine base” immediately popping into one’s mind. One possible explanation would be blowing up the ice so the convoy could advance. But then why is it rated as “Classified” when almost everything else is rated “Restriced”? Cambridge’s dictionary first definition for “demolition” is “to ​completely ​destroy a ​building, ​especially in ​order to use the ​land for something ​else.” Other dictionaries define it simply as “The act or process of wrecking or destroying something.” As I said, very intriguing.

Slide27 Slide28

The footnote on Fig. 3.h.2 (above) is quite clear as to the confidentially of this report.

Alternative motives

One of the secret goals of this operation – not so secret because Admiral Byrd revealed it in a TV interview (it’s on YouTube) – that it’s not mentioned in this confidential report is that they were also looking for natural energy resources. Byrd mentioned coal as an example. Today, we all know that every time there’s an US offensive oversees, natural energy resources are involved – the most popular being oil. But, in 1946, this wasn’t so obvious and so it was probably meant to be kept under wraps.

In our last post from this series, we considered the possibility that the German could have gone there in 1939 after the same thing – coal – and, if there was ever a III Reich base, It’d have probably been to mine and transform coal into oil (due to the lack of natural resources in German territories and the extraordinary needs related with the then upcoming world war)

If the US reached this conclusion on their own or got the idea from German books or war prisoner’s depositions, it remains to be known. But it seems now they were seriously considering that someone might have gotten there first. In 1946, that could only be III Reich Germany. Or a remnant of it.

Expecting opposition

So, all those vessels of war, including an aircraft carrier … for what? As you recall, in all 5 volumes of classified information, not once did I find a picture of any of the military vessels, except the submarine (Fig. 4.j.1 and 4.j.2 (above) – Not even in fig. 4.b. (below), I believe.


So I went to Wikipedia and pasted some pictures here, so that you’d have a better notion of what we’re talking about:

The USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) (below), launched September 1945. The US Navy sent one of their most sophisticated, brand-new, aircraft carriers, to an “inferno” of ice, for those goals?

porta avioeus

Avious porta

The USS Brownson (DD-868), launched July 1945. Again, the US Navy sent one of their most sophisticated, brand-new, destroyers (below).


The USS Henderson (DD-785), yet another Gearing-class destroyer, launched May 1945 (below).


Below is an interesting picture, of the Henderson (DD-785) – also pictured above – and the aircraft carrier USS Leyte (CV-32) being refueled off Korea between October 1950 and January 1951. The reason I’m including this picture is because very similar refueling operations occurred during Operation Highjump, involving destroyers, tankers and an aircraft carrier. Sometimes words fail to convey the magnitude of this operation.

Porta avious abastecendo

Let’s stop for a moment. So the US Navy assigned a brand-new aircraft carrier, two brand-new destroyers and a submarine to operation Highjump. But WW2 was over and the Cold War would only start to slowly gain momentum two years (or more) in the future. So what exactly was the US Navy expecting to find in Antarctica? Weaponized penguins? Even so, by whom? Or investigating the existence of a relic from WW2 – a German base or outpost of some sort – that, existing, needed to be dealt with swiftly and decisively?

Plant / Factory defenses

When the allies started bombing German plants and factories more intensively (1942), anti-aircraft defenses and improvised airfields begun to be built in their vicinity. One of the most interesting airplanes to participate was the Me163 Komet (pictured below). It remains the only rocket-propelled aircraft to have ever seen regular air force service. With an engine roughly the size of a sewing machine, developing 2,000 bhp, it would reach the end of the runway already at over 400 mph.

It was a dangerous airplane, but more so to its pilots than to the Allied bombers it was meant to intercept.

me163 pic 1 me 163 pic 2

This to say that the German took critical plant / factory defense very seriously and the US Army/Navy knew that very well. So, in my opinion, that was the reason why operation Highjump involved some of the most sophisticated means the Navy had at the time. The fact that they assigned two destroyers and not some other sort of vessel – and some of the most advanced they had – could also mean they were expecting U-boats (German submarines) or, in the very least, went prepared for them. It’s a known fact that several U-boats went missing after the war ended and, in 1946, several were still unaccounted for.


The naval means used in Operation Highjump, be the vessels or personnel, when considered against its goals, don’t seem to add up. It’s not hard to substantiate (at least) the hypothesis that the US went there to investigate on “something” and that they were clearly expecting some sort of military-grade opposition. When placed against the backdrop of WW2 ending the year before, it’s highly likely it would have been related to the III Reich.

In my opinion, they were looking for some sort of facility, exploiting local natural energy resources, and planned to cease it by force, if necessary. Of course, there was a huge chance they wouldn’t find anything. If they did, they’d probably announce it in bold letters. But, according to this report, nothing out of the ordinary happened except that they had to leave early, due to the worsening of the weather conditions.

If it wasn’t for an interview Admiral Byrd gave to the famous reporter Lee Van Atta (below), we could have left it at that. But this interview would change everything.



NEWSPAPER ARTICLE ANALYSIS / Admiral Byrd’s interview by Lee Van Atta (one of the US reporters on Highjump), ublished in “El Mercurio” (Santiago, Chile), March 5, 1947.


Admiral Byrd’s interview to “distinguished US war correspondent” Lee Van Atta singlehandedly started the “Nazi UFO craze.” Mainly – and here I completely agree with the skeptics, I’m afraid – because it was mistranslated over-and-over again. That said, it doesn’t rule out entirely most of the intriguing facts we’d expect to find in it. Only, unfortunately, it’s not as explicit as we’d expect it to be.

Below you will find the original article so you may read it and form your own conclusions.

el mercurio 27-8

These were Admiral Byrd’s words, nearly “ipsis verbis” (to the letter) and the text itself was never put in question.

Keeping in mind that:

  • The context here is the end of WW2
  • Operation Highjump would only be declassified in 1952

In my opinion, it’s apparent a certain tone, a tense one, from a man torn between maintaining secrecy over what he had seen and the urgent need to warn the American people. But maybe it’s just my imagination. You’ll be the judge of that. You’ve all you need here to make your own mind on this.

March 1947. The article opens with the following statement “Admiral Richard E. Byrd warned today that the United States should adopt measures of protection against the possibility of an invasion of the country by hostile planes coming from the Polar Regions.”

Yes, you’ve read right: an invasion. Believe it.

He continues: “The Admiral explained that he was not trying to scare anyone, but the cruel reality is that in case of a new war, the United States could be attacked by planes flying over one or both poles.”

This section was often misinterpreted as “flying objects that could fly from pole to pole at incredible speeds.” Not true, I’m afraid. But, that said and considering that the technology for that in absolute didn’t exist at the time, I wonder where he got the idea.

A few paragraphs down, it reads “Byrd said that the most important result of his observations and discoveries is the potential effect that they have in relation to the security of the United States.”

Now, is it just me or the operation’s “confidential” report we’ve just analysed – the most important document regarding the “expedition” – mentioned nothing of the sort?

It’s 1947. The war was over. The Soviets were our friends.

Note: Even if the Soviets weren’t “our friends” – which they were in March 1947 -, attacking the US from Antarctica would mean (almost) taking the longest possible route and the US would probably see them coming from a 1,000 miles away (literally). I’m not a geography expert but I suppose they’d still need to fly over South America. The North Pole would probably be the best option for a Soviet attack but, if so, what is Admiral Byrd and the US Navy doing on the opposite side of the globe? Good thing the Cold War has nothing to do with this because that wouldn’t make any sense anyway.

“The fantastic speed with which the world is shrinking – recalled the Admiral – is one of the most important lessons learned during his recent Antarctic exploration. I have to warn my compatriots that the time has ended when we were able to take refuge in our isolation and rely on the certainty that the distances, the oceans, and the poles were a guarantee of safety.”

There’s room here to believe he could actually be referring to (very) fast aircraft. But, again, why is nothing of this in the official classified report? Come to think of it, why would it? It’s got nothing to do with the objectives set in it.

Further down in the article, there’re other interesting – tense – quotes that go more-or-less like this “We must broaden our horizons”; “evolution and progress seem to know no limits“ and “The survival of the world depends on keeping up with progress.

I don’t know what your opinion is after reading this but I can tell you mine: it seems operation Highjump was far more interesting than “the books” show. This was also Rainer Daehnhardt’s opinion.

Rainer’s investigation

As I’ve mentioned in the first post of this series the credit for this work should go to historical researcher Rainer Daehnhardt and the documentation he gathered in 30 years of research – that I’m posting here and in the other posts from this series – that culminated with the recognition of his efforts by Cambridge, considering him one of the top scientists of 2005. My contribution is merely expanding on his findings, with knowledge I’ve acquired over the years

This is me with historical researcher Rainer Daehnhardt (below). I took this pic after asking him to do a final check on Future Man novel’s historical information (I’m sorry about the rather scruffy/informal look).

rainer and I

So what Rainer did was he traveled to the US, still in the 1990s, with two goals:

  • Interview relevant US Navy base commanders
  • Attempt to find and interview members of the expedition. “Witnesses” that would provide their testimony on what happened

 By this, Rainer hoped to ascertain what really happened or, at least, get some closer-to-the-truth version of the story. At the time, all he had were these documents and a strong suspicion that something was off.

Rainer has several connections in the US, namely with the military. The documentation presented here and in previous/future posts, owned by him, shows just that.

In the first interview on his list and after inquiring him on what he knew about Operation Highjump, the Navy base commander answered “Oh! You mean the penguin war!” This was where he first heard the expression “Pinguin War”. It’s likely that, up until the 1990s, such expression had never been heard outside US Navy circles. You see, “Pinguin War” was not something UFO theorists come up with. It was a joke going around, meaning that not even A-clearance Navy personnel understood why the Navy, in 1946, sent all those vessels to Antarctica – an aircraft carrier, two destroyers, a submarine … a total of 13 ships – to a place known to be inhabited exclusively by penguins. In 1946, there was nothing else there. But what intrigued Rainer the most was the fact that the expression included the term “War” in it and that wasn’t in the books.

After interviewing other Navy base commanders and cross-referencing the information they told him, these were his findings – be advised that none of these Navy base commanders witnessed these events in person and what you’re going to read next may not be a truthful account of the facts – and some exaggeration would be expected. Other than that, this is what most of them confirmed, informally:

  • Although the official documentation doesn’t show it, there was indeed a confrontation against an unknown force that led to the death of 1,600 men – that’s why they called it a “War.” Around 130 people survived
  • The conflict lasted approximately 2 days and hostilities occurred mostly during the night
  • The use of advanced weaponry by the opposing force, namely extremely fast aircraft was confirmed. If they were flying saucers or not could not be confirmed. It was said the soldiers could not make out their shape
  • Also confirmed was the use of technologies that would be described as “force fields, holograms, anti-gravity and rays of light, the latter often black and therefore completely invisible at night
  • The location was not disclosed. It was never confirmed that the opposing forces were “Germans from the III Reich.”

This is not speculating but, since there’s no hard evidence to support it, it’s really your choice to believe it or not.

Rainer proceeded to try to find and interview members of the expedition, “Witnesses” that would provide their testimony on what happened. He visited several veteran homes but he couldn’t find anyone. After a while, he stopped looking for actual “survivors” from Operation Highjump and began to look for people in the veteran homes who might have befriended them and could know where they were.

The result of these interviews is quite disturbing and I must say I’m somewhat reluctant in disclosing them. Additionally, I found evidence of the contrary on the web but, then again, it could be misinformation.

Anyway, here it goes: the war veterans Rainer interviewed told him that military survivors of Operation Highjump – those allegedly involved in the “Pinguin War” – where assigned to Operations “Buster–Jangle”/“Desert Rock” (1951) in Nevada and therefore, again allegedly, never made it to the 1990s. The purpose of these exercises was to gain experience in operations conducted in a nuclear combat environment. That meant exposing troops to low yield nuclear bombs.

desert rock

And, believe it or not, “that was that”.

Speculating time

If you trust this information – in full or in part – you should continue reading.

Was this “advanced opposing force” just defending some III Reich military factory (if it was from the III Reich in the first place) or were these vehicles coming from some III Reich advanced research center in Antarctica? In my opinion and even if only some of this is true, here’s what could have happened:

The Germans of the III Reich set up a coal mining/transforming facility in Antarctica in, say, 1940/41. In 1942, the bombings by the allies against German factories – in Germany – started becoming more-and-more intense. You see, the greatest danger to any military compound in times of war is being bombed from above. Actually, still today, I believe it’s the only way to permanently neutralize it.

So say that the Germans took to Antarctica. They had geothermal energy, warm lakes, caves and tunnels – because, after all, there’s seismic activity in the region. It’d never be the perfect place to work for them but it was safe from allied bombings. And that would mean a lot to scientists, physicists and mathematicians, I suppose. With the bombings in Germany starting to become more frequent during 1942 – and using German pragmatism to do the talking for me: “Why not move some of the most critical facilities to a place that would never be bombed? (Either because of the harsh weather conditions or because they’d be located deep underground) Why not move their best people? Even if it means dealing with harsh weather conditions most of the year? After all, it’s only temporary until Germany wins the war.”

Only it wasn’t. And there they remained.

Of course, these would be scientists – the best, allegedly – so they wouldn’t just “play cards”, waiting to be rescued. They’d improve their living conditions and, well, defend themselves if necessary.

That would make a great novel, don’t you think? I thought so too.

It’s called Future Man and it’s coming October 15th.

What to do?

There were other secret operations in Antarctica with reports similar to these. There’s no records if there was another confrontation with a “superior force”. It’s likely that there were. But, believing all these stories, it would mean the US – and its allies – had a “problem” in Antarctica. A problem that was both out of place and out of its time. A problem that had to be dealt swiftly and decisively. So:

  • You need to take care of “something” nobody knows exists (or would have trouble believing its existence)
  • “Something” that, according to Byrd’s interview, unequivocally represents a clear and present danger to the US and all allied forces
  • Its location: a place nobody ever visits. Totally out of reach from prying eyes.
  • Nobody would ever know.

It’s the 1950s. What sort of weapon would you use? Exactly.

Coming next

3-Sep: Operation Argos, by the Defense Nuclear Agency

  • “Operation Argos 1958. US atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. Nuclear test personnel review” by the Defense Nuclear Agency as Executive Agency for the Department of Defense. Brief document analysis, relevant pages and contextualization.
  • “The Antarctic Treaty”, Signed at Washington December 1, 1959. Brief document analysis, relevant pages and contextualization.

Previous posts on the subject:

Thank you.

Bruno De Marques

#thefutureneedsyou #futureman “Future Man” You guys ready for something different?


3 thoughts on “Analysis | Operation Highjump 1946/47

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