Throughout the nineteenth century, the United States and Chile competed for dominance in the Pacific, and their maritime rivalry reemerged in the race to Antarctica during the 1940s. The US Navy was able to circumnavigate the white continent, for the first time ever, while Chile's once great navy no longer posed a threat even to its neighbours. The Chilean government expressed concern about the scope of US exploration since the Antarctic always had been an essential component of its maritime policy with national security ramifications. President Gabriel González Videla seized upon Washington's unsuccessful attempts to determine the legal fate of the Antarctic to gain acceptance for a Chilean proposal that avoided the need to renounce sovereignty claims. In doing so, he secured essentially maritime objectives by diplomatic means. This success was more profound than widely appreciated since it came at a time when US intervention in Chile's domestic affairs had reached an unprecedented level.