Analysis | Operation Argus, nuclear weapons tests 1958

REPORT ANALYSIS / “Operation Argus” – US atmospheric nuclear weapons tests, 1958. Nuclear test personnel review, 1982” by the Defense Nuclear Agency as Executive Agency for the Department of Defense.


The reason why Operation Argus is under discussion here is due to the hypothesis we’ve been persuing that:

  • There was some sort of facility from the III Reich left in Antarctica after WW2
  • Operation Highjump was launched by the US to investigate that claim
  • There was a confrontation with an unknown force during operation Highjump and, possibly, during follow-up operations in the region

Also that Operation Argus here – allegedly, a series of US atmospheric nuclear weapons tests, in 1958 – was the best way the allies could find to neutralize such a threat from a distance, in a swiftly and decisively fashion.

More information on this in previous posts (links on the bottom). All the documents and figures are gathered in the bottom, along with aditional pages

Here, today, we’re going to check out a classified “Operation Argus” report and take a brief look at the treaty that would regulate nuclear tests in Antarctica.

Operation Argus


Argus was a series of United States nuclear weapons tests and missile tests secretly conducted during August and September 1958 over the South Atlantic Ocean. It consisted of three very high altitude test shots – three modified X-17A missiles armed with 1.7 kt W-25 nuclear warheads (below) to investigate the effects of nuclear explosions outside the atmosphere (bursts between 120 and 300 miles).


In particular, how the charged particles and radioactive isotopes released would interact with the Earth’s magnetic field, which could potentially interfere with radar tracking, communications, and the electronics of satellites and ballistic missiles (Fig. 6.b. e 6.c.)

Slide14 Slide15

Interesting facts in Operation Argus

  • It was (again) “the greatest scientific experiment ever conducted” Fig. 6.b. (above – a direct quote from the New York Times). Organization diagram (Fig. 7.l. – bottom). 9 ships and 4,500 men (Fig. 2.b., 7.i. e 7.j. – bottom):

– Aircraft carrier USS Tarawa (CV-40)

– Destroyer USS Bearss (DD-654)

USS Bearss (DD-654) underway c1957.jpg

– Destroyer USS Warrington (DD-843)


– Destroyer USS Courtney (DE-1021)

– Destroyer USS Hammerberg (DE-1015)

– Tanker/oiler USS Neosho (AO-143)

– Tanker/oiler USS Salamonie (AO-26)

Guided missile ship USS Norton Sound (AVM-1) – below

– Seaplane-tender USS Albemarle (AV-5)


  • Operation Argus was the only clandestine test series in the 17-year history of atmospheric testing (Fig. 6.a.)


  • Between 1945 and 1962, Operation Argus was the only atmospheric nuclear weapon test in the South Atlantic (Fig.2.a.). There were 235 tests during this period.


  • The first shipboard launch of ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead (Fig. 6.a. and 14)


  • 3 missiles with nuclear warheads were launched (2.b.) plus another 4 with telemetry heads (fig. 7.l.)



  • Approved by US president Dwight D. Eisenhower (Fig. 7.a.), the operation and tests were suggested by Nicholas Christofilos (6.b.), an American raised in Greece, a former elevator repairman in WW2 who studied physics in his spare time (source: Wikipedia and other specialized sites – not this report)


  • Although “expected (nuclear) fallout was not a consideration for the high burst altitudes“ (Fig. 7.r.), Task Force 88”, created specifically for this operation showed higher-than-normal number of leukemia claims (Fig.2.a.), more than the troops who had been exposed – within 6 miles – of low yield nuclear bombs on the ground.




So, basically, what this report’s saying is that:

  • US president Dwight D. Eisenhower has approved Argus, a huge operation apparently meant (almost) exclusively to test the theories of a former elevator repairman who studied physics in his spare time
  • In 235 tests between 1945 and 1962, Argus was the only one to take place in the South Atlantic and the only to be kept secret in 17 years
  • An “atmospheric experiment” that involved an unparalleled combination of means at the time (9 ships and 4,500 men) and involved the first shipboard launch of ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead
  • The missiles were detonated between 120 and 300 miles up in the air (actually, in space) – still, military personal on the ships developed the same illness, leukemia, as soldiers that were only within 6 miles of low yield nuclear bomb testing on the ground did.

That makes a lot of sense.

According to the charts (Fig. 7.p. and 9.), the operation took place between 1,400 and 2,200 miles north of the Dronning Maud Land coast – the German III Reich territory in Antarctica – and involved shooting nuclear ballistic missiles “straight up” and, apparently, for rather murky reasons. The Mach-13-capable missiles could easily make the distance. And, accepting the official scenario, people aboard getting contaminated by nuclear fallout is utterly inexplicable. Unless Task Force 88 was much closer than they care to admit.


But okay. Let’s move on.


BRIEF TREATY ANALYSIS / “The Antarctic Treaty” – Signed at Washington December 1, 1959

In December 1st, 1959, the Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington by the twelve countries. It entered into force in 1961 (Fig. 11 – below).

Article 1 of the Antarctic Treaty reads “Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only. There shall be prohibited, inter alia, any measures of a military nature, such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military maneuvers, as well as the testing of any type of weapons.”

By “weapons”, it means “nuclear weapons”. This is a fact and, therefore, not under discussion here.


This is funny. Let me ask you a question:

Do you think that there would be a law preventing, say, whale hunting in the South Atlantic, if no one had never hunted whales in that region? Or that metal-detectors would’ve been installed in airports (and schools) if there was never some kind of incident that would legitimate such measures, such laws? I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen it happen. Not once.

Well, this is what’s happening here: The Antarctic Treaty’s first order of business is forbidding something THAT NEVER HAPPENED. “There have never been any nuclear tests conducted over or near the Antarctica”, says a letter from the British Antarctic Survey, confirming this fact (Fig. 13 – below).


Why would the Treaty mention something specifically, when it never happened? Not even once? That’s easy: BECAUSE IT HAPPENED. I would add that it didn’t happen only once or twice. To be the nº1 topic of a Treaty, it happened often. So often, in fact, that got everyone worried. That’s when laws and treaties emerge. The Antartic Treaty basicaly and euphemistically says “No more nuclear tests in Antarctica.”

Can you guess which are the only nuclear weapons tests that have been acknowledged by a nation in the region? You’ve guessed it! Operation Argus, by the US. But how can that be? Operation Argus didn’t take place in Antarctica. It involved shooting nuclear ballistic missiles “straight up” into space, in the South Atlantic, 1.400 miles away from the alleged III Reich base location. The fact the people aboard the ships developed nuclear fallout illnesses is, apparently, irrelevant.

Speculating time

There are several intriguing facts about Argus. It should be pretty obvious by now that there’s a chance that this operation’s goal was to bomb the region where, supposedly, a III-Reich facility existed. A last resort measure when conventional military approaches had failed in the past, like operation Highjump. The fact that military personnel from Task Force 88 developed  nuclear-burst-close-proximity illnesses, could be an indication that they weren’t exactly where the report says they were. One can only speculate that these people could be on the ground, waiting for the nuclear bursts, to then verify that the target had been destroyed.

The letters

As part of his research, Rainer Daehnhardt sent letters to both the US and British Governments, asking about nuclears tests in the Antarctica or its vicinity. While the US government’s answer to his letter (Fig. 12) would be “Operation Argus”, the British government forward Rainer’s request to the British Antarctic Survey, that categorically denied nuclear tests in the region or its vicinity (Fig. 13).

Slide42 Slide43

This is interesting, not only because of this discrepancy, but also because of the apparent need to not disclose information regarding this issue. As mentioned in my previous Cover Up post, this could mean that there’re ongoing operations in the same context or in the same theatre and disclosing information about past operations – even as old as this one – at this time, might compromise them in some way.

This could mean the “Allies” are still looking for them. To this day.


Coming next

10-Sep: “The ‘X’ never marks the spot.”

  • Die Deutsche Antarktische expedition 1938/39 – Volume II: Erster Band | Bilder | Und Kartenteil”, by Alfred Ritscher. Book analysis, relevant pages and contextualization.
  • Final conclusions

Previous posts on the subject:

Thank you.

Bruno De Marques

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

 Slide1 Slide2 Slide3 Slide4 Slide5 Slide6 Slide7 Slide8 Slide9 Slide10 Slide11 Slide12 Slide13 Slide14 Slide15 Slide16 Slide17 Slide18 Slide19 Slide20 Slide21 Slide22 Slide23 Slide24 Slide25 Slide26 Slide27 Slide28 Slide29 Slide30 Slide31 Slide32 Slide33 Slide34 Slide35 Slide36 Slide37 Slide38 Slide39 Slide40 Slide41 Slide42 Slide43 Slide44

One thought on “Analysis | Operation Argus, nuclear weapons tests 1958

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s