Operation Deep Freeze I - Washington, D.C.
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
N 38° 52.374 W 076° 59.717
18S E 326909 N 4304564
Quick Description: "Operation Deep Freeze I: 1955-56" features works by Commander Standish Backus (1910-1989) and Robert Charles Haun (1903-1975). Their artwork depicting the Operation is located at the Navy Art Gallery in Washington, D.C., USA.
Location: District of Columbia, United States
Date Posted: 8/6/2008 4:59:54 AM
Waymark Code: WM4CJC
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member SCOTUS
Views: 127

Long Description:
The Navy Art Gallery is located at the Washington Navy Yard. You can gain entry by getting a pass at the Visitor Center. The artwork depicting the expedition can be viewed by contacting the Navy Art Galley. The curator, Karen, was very helpful and showed us several of Haun's original drawings. Information about Operation Deep Freeze I: 1955-56:

Operation Deep Freeze I was the codename for a series of scientific expeditions to Antarctica in 1955-56. The impetus behind these expeditions was the International Geophysical Year 1957-58. IGY, as it was known, was a collaboration effort between forty nations to carry out earth science studies from the North Pole to the South Pole and at points in between. The United States, along with Great Britain, France, Japan, Norway, Chile, Argentina, and the U.S.S.R agreed to go the South Pole--the least explored area on Earth. Their goal: to advance world knowledge of Antarctic hydrography and weather systems, glacial movements, and marine life. The U.S. Navy was charged with supporting the U.S. scientists for their portion of the IGY studies.

The U.S. Navy already had a record of earlier exploration in Antarctica. As early as 1839, Captain Charles Wilkes led the first U.S. Naval expedition into Antarctic waters. In 1929, Admiral Richard E. Byrd established a naval base at Little America I, led an expedition to explore further inland, and conducted the first flight over the South Pole. From 1934-35, the second Byrd Expedition explored much further inland and also "wintered over." The third Byrd Expedition in1940 charted the Ross Sea. After WWII, from 1946-47, Byrd was instrumental in the Navy's Operation Highjump that charted most of the Antarctic coastline. In 1948 Commander Finn Ronne led an expedition that photographed over 450,000 square miles by air. Then, in 1954-55, the icebreaker U.S.S. Atka (AGB-3) made a scouting expedition for future landing sites and bays.

Operation Deep Freeze I would prepare a permanent research station and pave the way for more exhaustive research in later Deep Freeze operations. The expedition transpired over the Antarctic summer of November 1955 to April 1956.

Background information about the Artists, the Personnel, and the Ships:

The Artists:
Operation Deep Freeze I garnered significant national attention, with Commander Dufek holding news conferences in several states and delivering briefings to news organizations in Washington, DC and in New Zealand. Admiral Byrd held a press conference on board U.S.S. Glacier before departing for the Antarctic. The expedition also carried 2500 pounds of mail from eager philatelists who wanted to receive a postmark from Antarctica.

Given the historic nature of Operation Deep Freeze I, the Navy saw the importance of inviting representatives from newspapers, radio, magazines and television to accompany the expedition. But space was limited. Initially only one artist was invited to portray this faraway country for the American people. Commander Standish Backus had gained renown as a combat artist in World War II and was selected to fill the artist billet. Civilian artist Robert Charles Haun also volunteered his services in October 1955, but Captain Dufek wrote that he should try again the following year. When the ships sailed in November, however, Haun was aboard as a Staff Artist, having clearly pulled the necessary strings. A long-time resident of Rhode Island, Haun had garnered favor with the Seabees by painting murals at the U.S. Naval Air Station at Quonset Point.

Backus did not do any oil painting while in Antarctica. He found it impractical to attempt such a medium under the harsh, frigid conditions. Instead, he took photographs and made sketches with a liquid lead pencil that prevented smudging and resisted freezing. His oil paintings were done from this reference material in the months following his return to the United States. Haun did some oil painting on paper while in Antarctica but created mostly pencil sketches. He used these as studies for oil paintings after his return.

Haun's works were later exhibited in the Central Library, Wellington, New Zealand and at the Victorian Art Gallery in Melbourne, Australia. Ten of his paintings were also displayed in Peoria, Illinois, home of the Caterpillar corporation, in September 1956 as part of a larger exhibition including Deep Freeze equipment, clothing, trail tent, and photographs. Both artists exhibited together at the Overseas Press Club in New York City. Backus' works were exhibited in New York City, Detroit, Santa Barbara and as part of Operation Palette, a tour of Navy art that traveled across America in the 1950s and 60s. All of the works are part of the permanent collection of the Naval Historical Center's Art Collection.

The Personnel of Task Force 43:
Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd was President Eisenhower's logical choice to serve as Officer in Charge of Operation Deep Freeze I.

Captain (later Admiral) George J. Dufek postponed retirement and was named Commander of Task Force 43 and Commander, U.S. Naval Support Forces, Antarctica.

There would be four groups of men working together:

Surface units
Air Development Squadron (VX-6) (commissioned at NAS, Patuxent River)
Mobile Construction Battalion (Special) (commissioned at Davisville, Rhode Island); the CBs or Seabees
Support staff

The Ships:
Ice breakers:
U.S.S. Edisto (AGB-2)
U.S.S. Glacier (AGB-4) (doubled as a carrier)
U.S.C.G.C. Eastwind (Coast Guard) (WAGB-279)

Attack cargo ships:
U.S.S. Arneb (flagship) (AKA-56)
U.S.S. Wyandot (AKA-92)

Gasoline tanker:
U.S.S. Nespelen (AOG-55)

Gasoline barges:

Cargo ship:
U.S.N.S. Greenville Victory (TAK-239)

The Planes:
(2) R5D-3 "Skymaster" (wheels): for long-range reconnaissance and photo missions
(3) HO4S-3 Helicopter (wheels)
(2) UF-1 "Albatross" (ski-wheels, boat hull): triphibian rescue plane
(2) R4D-5/6 "Dakota" (ski-wheels)
(4) UC-1 "Otter" (ski-wheels): Canadian snow-designed utility plane
(2) P2V-2N "Neptune" (ski-wheels): for fast long-range missions

The Machines:
For service, maintenance and operations:
(34) 20-ton cargo sleds
(10) low ground pressure Caterpillar D8 tractors
(3) low ground pressure D2 tractors
(1) semi-low ground pressure Caterpillar D4 tractor w/ fork and bucket attachments
(2) Pettibone-Mulliken carrylifts
(5) M29C Cargo Carriers (Weasels)
(2) Tucker Snow-Cats
(1) Jeep
Several 1-ton M1 and "go-devil" bobsleds

Type of Waymark: Off Continent Point of Interest

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