When Hams helped polar researchers come from the cold


We always appreciate [The History Guy] videos, although a lot of them don’t talk a lot about technology. However, when he covers technical topics he does it well and his recent video on how ham radio operators participated in Operation Deep Freeze is a great example of this. You can watch the video below.

The backdrop is the International Geophysical Year (IGY) where many countries cooperated to learn more about the Earth. In particular, from 1957 to 1958 there was a push to learn more about the last unexplored corner of our planet: Antarctica. Several of the permanent bases on the frozen continent today were launched during the IGY.

It is difficult for the modern public to appreciate the state of personal communication in 1957. There were no cell phones and if you think of satellites, remember that Sputnik was only launched at the end of 1957, so it was not going well. not happen either.

Operation Deep Freeze had ten US Navy ships that brought in scientists, aircraft and Seabees (slang for naval construction battalion members) – about 1,800 personnel in all over several years, culminating in the AGI . Sure, the navy had radio capabilities, but it wasn’t like the navy letting you call home to chat. Not to mention that there were just over 100 people left for each winter and the Navy ships were returning home. This is where radio amateurs came in.

Hams would make what is called a phone patch for people stationed in Antarctica. Some hams also send radiograms to and from crew families. A teenager named Jules was particularly dedicated to making connections with Antarctica. We can’t verify this, but one commentator says Jules was so instrumental in linking his father in Antarctica to his fiancée that when his parents got married, Jules was their best man.

Jules and his brother dedicated themselves to maintaining a moral pipeline from New Jersey to frozen stations. He figures prominently in the recollections of many written accounts of people who wintered at the fledgling bases. Apparently, many men even traveled to New Jersey later to visit Jules. What happened to him? Watch the end of the video and you will know.

Although being a ham today doesn’t offer that kind of excitement, hams still contribute to science. Want to get in on the action? [Dan Maloney] can tell you how to get started inexpensively.


Comments are closed.