Operation Deep Freeze DE(R)s

www.60South.net and www.aspen-ridge.net  are dedicated to United States and New Zealand Navy personnel who sailed on destroyer escort type ships in support of Operation Deep Freeze.
USS Calcaterra and USS Thomas J. Gary were two of those ships, but there were others. If you would like to contribute photographs or stories to this site please e-mail: Click Here.   The site is evolving, and will be updated frequently.  Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are copyright www.60South.net and www.aspen-ridge.net


Gene Spinelli at Campbell Island, Dec. 9, 2012

What's a BT Drop?

Spath Photo of John Spath-1

John Spath USS Calcaterra

What's New - Added Dave Nickel's USS Calcaterra Pictures (April, 2023)

USS Calcaterra Videos

Mini Reunion
Kevin Burke (USS Calcaterra) hosted a mini reunion in Dunedin, New Zealand, February 10, 2018.
Click here to see the pictures

Between the years 1957 and 1968 the US Navy deployed destroyer escort type ships in support of Operation Deep Freeze, a multi nation exploration of Antarctica...

From May, 1965 to June, 1967 the webmaster (Gene Spinelli) served on the following destroyer escort (radar) ships :

USS Calcaterra, DER 390 from May 1965 - May, 1966
USS Thomas J Gary, DER 326 from June, 1966 - June, 1967  

USS Calcaterra's and Thomas J. Gary's home port was Newport, Rhode Island. While supporting Operation Deep Freeze Calcaterra and Thomas J. Gary operated out of Dunedin, New Zealand. These ships, using their radar, communications and navigation equipment sailed to 60 degrees south latitude,  160 east longitude (midway between New Zealand and Antarctica) for several purposes:

  • provide weather, and upper air conditions, for aircraft flying between Christchurch, New Zealand and McMurdo Station, Antarctica
  • provide TACAN navigation beacons for these aircraft
  • search and rescue operations in the unlikely event an aircraft experienced problems
  • deliver and collect mail and supplies at Campbell Island, a sub Antarctic New Zealand weather station

Upon completion of their Operation Deep Freeze assignment to Campbell Island and Antarctica, Calcaterra and Thomas J. Gary returned to Newport via the Indian Ocean, Suez Canal, The Med, and Atlantic Ocean, thus completely circling the earth during each of these 10 month deployments. Other ships that supported Operation Deep Freeze during the 11 years were USS: Mills, Vance, Peterson, Forster, Durant, Hissem, Brough, Wilhoite, and HMNZS Endeavour, Pukaki and Rotoiti.

Countries visited during these deployments: Panama, Peru, American Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, Yemen, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Greece, Italy, France, Gibraltar, Spain, England, Holland (The Netherlands), Ireland, plus Campbell Island, Auckland Island, the Balleny Islands and countless icebergs as we sailed on picket station.

"Real" sailors rode on DERs

Joe Thorne, 1965

USS Calcaterra

ASIUSS Kretchmer - Northern Barrier2

USS Calcaterra, Dec. 19, 1965 at 60 South

Google Earth view of 60 South


Destroyer piers Newport, RI

Damage from iceberg


Operation Deep Freeze was the United States' contribution to the peaceful study of Antarctica. 1957 - 1958 was designated the International Geophysical Year (IGY). On display at the Eisenhower Presidential Museum and Library in Abilene, Kansas  are various documents, including the presidential press release proclaiming the US position on Antarctica. Click here to view the Operation Deep Freeze display at the museum.

The Internet offers a unique opportunity to bring these destroyer escort crews together after over 50 years, and to share some unique photographs of Antarctica and life aboard these small but agile ships.

There are hundreds of photographs on this site. At the left of this page are a series of links that will take you through the site. Clicking on most pictures will give you a larger image.

Number of visits since April, 2000

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All DE(R) Operation Deep Freeze sailors are eligible for membership in the Old Antarctic Explorers Association



New Zealand Antarctic Veterans Association

For additional information e-mail: Click Here 

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