Saturday, January 27, 2007

Hallett Station

© David Eldred

View of Hallett Station

Hallett station was a joint American/New Zealand facility built during the first International Geophysical Year, 1957-58. The station was the first, and with the exception of a more recently established joint French-Italian facility, only international effort in Antarctica. Although it was built by the United States, the station was manned by both countries, and headed up by scientists from New Zealand for the first several years. It was a year round station until 1964, when a fire destroyed the main scientific laboratory. From that time, until it was abandoned in 1973, the station was manned during the austral summer.
The purpose of the station was to provide weather data for the U.S. aircraft flying between Christchurch and McMurdo. Scientists also researched meteorology, geomagnetism, aurora, iconosphere, and seismology at the station.

© David Eldred


Foreground: Fuel trailer. Background: Hallett Station's geomagnetic dome, now on display at Canterbury Museum in New Zealand, along with several of the station's buildings. The building in the foreground is a portable Jamesway Hut, a temporary, insulated, canvas-covered shelter.

© David Eldred


Adelie Rookery at Hallett Station

Seabee Hook, the station's location on Cape Hallet, has been the location of a large Adelie penguin rookery for perhaps as long as 2000 years. In typical military fashion, the penguins were simply pushed aside to make room for the station and its airstrip. Study of the rookery, as well as related biological features, became the main focus of scientific research at the station after the end of the IGY.

© David Eldred


Filling rubberized fuel bladders at Hallet Station

Hallett Station was initially dismantled, and largely removed, in the 1980s. In the mid 1990s, a more extensive environmental cleanup was carried out. In 2001, it was discovered that fuel storage tanks left at the station were leaking and young penquins from the rookery were found with oil soaked feathers. Consequently, further cleanup has been necessary to more thoroughly decontaminate the site.

© David Eldred


A USARP scientist with a Skua, an aggressive scavenger and predator. Skuas kill young adelies by isolating them from the rest of the rookery and repeatedly attacking them.

© David Eldred


Equipment at Hallett Station


Anonymous said...

I have a lot of photos of Hallett Station as I was the ET there for two summers in 1968-69 and 1969-70.

Anonymous said...

I wintered at hallet station in 1964 and was there the year of the fire. I wlso have many slides of hallet and the surrounding area. I enjoyed hallett very much and was sorry to see removed.

Anonymous said...

My grandfather was there I believe off and on from 61 - 64, his name was Joe Dessent. I also have photos that should be somewhere safe, is there an organization that is collecting them?


Richard Tenaza, Ph.D. said...

Nice to see something about Hallet Station and Operation Deep Freeze. I was at Hallet as a USARP biologist for the adelie penguin's 1967-68 austral summer breeding season. Other biologists based at Hallet that season were American's Elmer Gless and David H. Thompson and New Zealanders Brian Johnston and ?(name escapes me). Jerry Kooyman accompanied us to visit the area on the flight from McMurdo to Hallet that brought us there, and Ian Stirling came on the ice breaker that moved us back to McMurdo at the end of the season. Any polar biologists interested in birds and mammals will know of Jerry and Ian. Edmund Hillary and his Kiwi climbing team left Hallet on the plane that brought us in at the beginning season. They had just made the (first ever?) ascent of Mt Herschel, across the inlet from Hallet Station. Pygnogonidologist Joel Hedgepeth had been at Hallet before we arrived and left on the same flight with Jerry Kooyman and the Hillary expeditionists.
Rich Tenaza

Anonymous said...

I have a book from US military expeditions in Antartica, plus a lot of photos. My father was stationed there in the early '60s.

Anonymous said...

I was aboard the USS Arneb, a cargo ship that re-supplied both
McMuro & Hallett Station. I walked amoung the penquins in 1961.

Jim Steiger/Cleveland, Ohio

Earl said...

I was an aerographer's mate there from Jan 1970 till we closed the station on 19 February 1973.The last piece of equipment to be ferried out by helo was "Homer", the homing beacon. Sorry to see the buildings all gone. When we left, all the essential equipment was left behind; generators, distillation units, hydrogen generator and all the fire fighting equipment. I spent 20 months in the noisy chicken rookery-a great station.
Earl Griffith (AG-2)

Anonymous said...

Went to Hallet Station on USCGC Glacier (WAGB-4)1966-67 DeepFreeze, and transferred astral summer crew back to McMurdo Station. CPO Jerry Mello was CB POINC at Hallet, and joined the Winter Over party at McMurdo. Jerry Mello operated the ham radio station at Hallet, and ran MANY phone patches back stateside to my dad, W1HOD on East Coast.

Anonymous said...

I spent the winter of 1957/1958 at Hallett Station. I was an Aerographers Mate 2nd class. Many fond memories are at that station and of the other 15 people I wintered over with. The pictures do not do the beauty of the sorundings justice nor do they reflect the numerous penguins that were part of the roockery. I was not aware that they have done so much to restore the site to the natural state.

CHAERO4 W H Highlands

Andrew said...

I was at Hallett Station aboard the USCGC Glacier sometime in the Feb/Mar 1967 time frame. I was a civilian Oceanographer from the US Naval Oceanographic Office at the time. I took many photos of the rookery and surrounding station. It sure was a thrill for me to be there!

Marvin Nichols said...

I was the senior Radioman at Hallett Station during the 67-68 summer. It was an interesting time there and I also was involved with Sir Edmond Hillary and his team climbing Mount Hershey with communications support. I spend two more summer down there at Brocton Station and McMurdo Station.

Pete Davis said...

I was at Cape Hallet during an Operation Deep Freeze 1963 to 1964. We brought fuel, in 55 gal. Barrels, lumber, etc. on shore buy Landing craft. The barrels were rolled up to the storage area by hand.
Pete Davis SMSN

Laytin James said...

Does anyone know the identity of the man with the red beard pictured above ?

Jim Drum said...

I spent three summers at Hallett Station. The last summer as lead Radioman 2ond class. That would have been the summer of 66-67. I have many, many pictures of the station and the surrounding area. Anyone interested in contacting me can do so at, I would really enjoy corresponding with any of my old shipmates or USARPS. Remember, never eat the yellow snow. Jim Drummond, Indian Trail, NC

Joseph Kelly said...

I wintered over at Hallett Station during Deep Freeze ' 61, i,e., 1960-1961.
I was the Officer in Charge and the Medical Officer (doctor), during that year.It was a very unique situation to have both jobs ,and at times it was almost overwhelming.We had some very serious medical problems arise that year. Fortunately, even though I had only one year of internship as post graduate training after Georgetown Medical School, I was able to handle the problems.

It was without a doubt the most challenging year of my life, before or since, and I am now 84 years old , with many many years of medical practice behind me.

The scenery surrounding Hallett was beautiful, and in 1960-61 there were 250,000 Adelie Penguins.

Joe Descent mentioned in one of the comments was the Ham radio operator and facilitated all of our 'phone patches' to call home. I am very sorry to hear of his passing He was a good guy.

For more info on DF '61, google "My Year at Hallett Station".

Joseph Kelly Lt(MC)USN, retired.

Alfred Peterson said...

I was with Det "C", Operation Deep Freeze 68/69 and 69/70 at Hallett Station.
I was one of three Aerographer's Mates. As the others have posted, being there was a real experience. I can visualize those thousands of penguins and the consistent noise from the rookery. Things we did on our spare time was climbing the Mountain behind the station. Watching seals chasing penguins along the shore line. Seeing Killer Whales swim by looking for lunch. We ventured out onto the still frozen ice out to an Ice Berg. We climbed up a little and found an ice crevice that opened deep into the berg. We were foolish and crawled into it and found an open area lined with pure blue ice. Fresh water!!!. It was awesome. We got to go hunting for Emperor Penguins, flew copilot in USCG Helo. Have you ever chased and tackled a 45 lb penguin? We did. Caught a bunch and they were taken to NZ. As a weather guesser I got to launch weather balloons equipped with a radio transmitter. We tracked those suckers for hours collecting upper air data for the Meteorologist back at McMurdo Station. Well its been 50 years ago yet it seems like yesterday. I live in Moyock NC now. Would love to hear from anyone that was there at the same time I was. Fred Peterson AG2