The U.S. Antarctic Service Expedition - Richard E. Byrd's Third Expedition (1939-1941)

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The U.S. Antarctic Service Expedition was led by Admiral Richard E. Byrd to the Palmer Peninsula [Land] of Antarctica, 1939-1941. Its main objectives were outlined in an order from President Franklin D. Roosevelt dated November 25, 1939. They were instructed to establish two field bases from which staff would collect and document the geography of the coast between Cape Eielson and the Luitpold Coast. Bases were established at the Bay of Whales and Neny Bay. A total of 125 men departed from the United States in two ships. The USS Bear and the USMS North Star were supplied to transport the expedition force to Antarctic. The group consisted of military and civilian personnel. Scientific staff taking part in the expedition included ornithologist Carl Eklund, biologist Jack E. Perkins, ornithologist M. J. Lobell, biologist Herwil McClure Bryant, meteorologist Herbert Dorsey, and geologist Paul Knowles. Specimen collecting documented marine biology, botany, ornithology, and zoology. The specimens taken in reside in the holdings the US National Museum. Byrd used aircraft and an aerial camera to further explore areas of the Walgreen Coast, Thurston Peninsula and Seraph Bay in a series of flights. Another set of three flights was made over Alexander I Island and, in late December 1940, the entire length of George VI Sound was traversed. The use of planes allowed for several important discoveries including the Shackleton Glacier. With international tensions on the rise, the two established bases were evacuated and the groups set sail for the U.S. The North Star arrived in Boston on May 5 and the Bear on May 18.


  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. (2013). The U.S. Antarctic Service Expedition - Richard E. Byrd's Third Expedition. Historical Expeditions.
  • English, R. A. J. (1941). Preliminary account of the United States Antarctic Expedition, 1939-1941. Geographical Review, 31(3), 466-478.

Date Range

1939 - 1941


  • Animals
  • Zoology
  • Birds
  • Mammalogy
  • Plants
  • Botany
  • Ornithology


  • Palmer Land
  • Luitpold Coast
  • Walgreen Coast
  • Antarctica
  • George VI Sound


Expedition name