S.S. Jacob Ruppert

 As with the first, the Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition was organized and financed by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd (USN, retired) with financial aid and supplies contributed by a number of private individuals, businesses, industrial firms, research institutes and government agencies. Byrd's original plans called for a departure in the fall of 1932, however lack of necessary funding and supplies required them to wait until the following year. Amazingly, $150,000 in cash was contributed while in the midst of the Great Depression. It came mostly with thousands of donors contributing small amounts but larger gifts were given by Edsel Ford, William Horlick, Thomas Watson, Col. Jacob Ruppert and the National Geographic Society. Additional funds were realized from the sale of newspaper rights, photographic privileges and advertising sold for the weekly radio broadcasts from Little America. Industrial and commercial firms donated all the fuel oil and gasoline and much of the equipment used on the expedition while nearly $100,000 worth of scientific instruments was lent by government agencies and universities. The flagship of the expedition was leased from the U.S. Shipping Board for one dollar a year.

The 8257-ton steel cargo vessel Pacific Fir, used in the west coast lumber trade and then laid up at Staten Island with other surplus ships of World War I, was totally reconditioned and rechristened the Jacob Ruppert.... A total of 45 officers and crew made the outbound voyage on the Jacob Ruppert in 1933 and 33 assisted with the homeward voyage in 1935. Both voyages were under the direction of Commodore Hjalmar Fridtjof Gjertsen, an ice pilot with the Norwegian Navy. On the outbound voyage, the master of the Jacob Ruppert was Lt. (jg) W.F. Verleger, USNR. He was replaced on the homeward voyage by S.D. Rose, who had served as first officer on the second ship, the "Bear of Oakland".

The Jacob Ruppert left Boston on October 11 1933, stopped at Newport News, and left for the Panama Canal eleven days later... After passing through the Panama Canal, the Jacob Ruppert called at Easter Island on November 16 and reached Wellington, New Zealand on December 5. The ship's engines were overhauled and the William Horlick readied for flight. Another eighteen men were added to the crew before she set sail on December 12, 1933. Additionally, three stowaways were soon discovered. The ship reached the ice pack on December 20 and proceeded along the edge for the next three weeks. On December 21, at 10:53 a.m., Admiral Byrd, Harold June (pilot), William Bowlin (co-pilot), Carl Petersen (radio operator) and Joseph Pelter (aerial photographer) lifted off in the "William Horlick" on a successful four-hour preliminary test flight. Further flights and reconnaissance took place until eventually entering the Bay of Whales, where she was moored on January 17, 1934.

By February 4 both ships were unloaded. At 10:10 p.m. the next day, the Jacob Ruppert left for Port Chalmers, New Zealand, where she arrived on February 18... During the winter 1934/35 layover in New Zealand, both the Bear of Oakland and Jacob Ruppert were reconditioned and loaded with coal. The Bear of Oakland left Dunedin on January 2 1935; on board was Charles F. Anderson, U. S. Postal Inspector, to handle the cancellation of mail at Little America. On January 18 they entered Discovery Inlet and picked up the seismograph crew. The next morning they moored in the Bay of Whales. The Jacob Ruppert left Port Chalmers on January 16 and arrived in the Bay of Whales on January 27. The men hustled to get the cargo loaded aboard but with the ice threatening the thin plates of the Jacob Ruppert, ferrying was necessary between the two ships as the Jacob Ruppert hove to out in the bay. This process continued until only the heavy tractors and planes remained at the edge of the bay. Too heavy for the Bear of Oakland, the Jacob Ruppert slipped in long enough to haul aboard all but Citroën No.2, two snowmobiles and a small amount of various supplies. The two ships moved out of the Bay of Whales on the afternoon of February 5, 1935. On board, headed for the Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, was the Floyd Bennett. . .the plane in which Byrd had flown to the Pole in 1929. Both ships stopped in Discovery Inlet long enough to pick up some penguins destined for American zoos and then, on February 7, the two ships departed for Dunedin.

Offshore radio station: Broadcasts from the Byrd Antarctic Expedition II were heard in the U.S.A. regularly since the S.S. Jacob Ruppert passed through the Panama Canal en route to New Zealand in October 1933. A 1,000-watt Collins shortwave transmitter designated as Station KJTY was on board and the first Saturday night broadcast took place from an improvised cabin studio. At Wellington, New Zealand, the facilities of a local broadcasting station were turned over to the Byrd party. Here programs were presented from a well-eqipped land studio linked by telephone wires with the transmitter on ship-board. The Jacob Ruppert then set out on the perilous trip to the Ross Ice Barrier at Little America. The expedition, according to their news flashes, came near disaster on many occasions and listeners were thrilled with the accounts of the unexpected breaking-up of ice and the perils of the journey. 

Once at their destination, the 1,000-watt transmitter was moved off the ship and set up on the ice, the call letters being changed to KFZ. With complete studio and transmitter facilities set up on the icy terrain of Little America, programs from Admiral Byrd's base near the South Pole now supplied countless thrills to listeners throughout the world. [from "Radio News", July 1934]

Location: On the way from the Panama Canal to Wellington, New Zealand, and then to the Ross Ice Barrier at Little America.


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