The brigantine Porpoise was one of five ill fitted ships engaged in the U.S. Exploring Expedition under the command of Lt. Charles Wilkes. They sailed from Norfolk, VA in 1838 and arrived at Orange Harbor, Tierra del Fuego in February, 1839. The season too advanced for significant achievements, Wilkes split the ships into 2 groups to make an initial attempt at approaching Cook's record of highest latitude. The following season, Wilkes recorded the discovery of Antarctica. There was controvery with the French, claiming first sighting, and a re-creation of the route by the British. Regardless, Wilkes' succession of landfalls proved that a continent, not a series of islands comprised the South Pole.