569 Beasley to Addison

Letter LONDON, 30 January 1947

SECRET

You will recall my letter to you of 2nd January, in which I informed you of various Cabinet decisions relating to the Antarctic. You may be interested in subsequent developments.

On 16 January the Cabinet again discussed plans for the expedition to the Australian Antarctic Territory to establish a permanent scientific base. The Cabinet had before it reports from the Departments of Navy and Air on the practicability of a short voyage this summer by a naval ship equipped with suitable aircraft, to survey Cape Freshfield and its approaches, and undertake general reconnaissance.

The Department of Navy advised that there was available no suitable ship from which an air reconnaissance could be made; and that the length of the voyage was beyond the fuelling capacity of the average naval ship. Even if a ship were available, there were serious difficulties in providing suitable equipment. A small ship (such as a frigate) would run serious risks from ice.

The Department of Air reported that a long-range air reconnaissance from the mainland would be attended by definite risks, which would be justified only if the results obtained played a decisive part in expediting the establishment of the base next year.

The Cabinet therefore accepted the recommendation of the Ministers for External Affairs and in charge of Scientific and Industrial Research, that the proposal for an expedition this summer should not be proceeded with, and that an executive committee be formed to develop concrete plans for the despatch of an expedition during the summer 1947-48. The executive committee consists of representatives of- Department of Navy Department of Air Department of External Affairs Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and of Sir Douglas Mawson, who has been co-opted as adviser on planning.

The Executive Committee will meet shortly to discuss recommendations for the appointment of an executive officer. The latter will undertake full-time work on planning, and be prepared to accompany any expedition in charge of general supply and management under the leader appointed by Cabinet.

Antarctica

On 19 December, 1946, Cabinet approved recommendations of an interdepartmental committee, chaired by the Department of External Affairs, for a short reconnaissance voyage to be undertaken that summer to identify a suitable ice-free base in the Antarctic.

Plans for exploration and research were to be co-ordinated by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Department of External Affairs was to investigate the extent of possible co-operation with the United Kingdom and New Zealand. See Volume X, Document 332.

[AA : A1068, A46/26/1A]