Magdalena Oldendorff Assist Mission

Updated reports  


Welcome to the icebreaker                  

18 August.

Everything turned out good,it rained very hard but it stopped 20 minutes before the arrival of the Irizar. 5,000 people showed up according to the newspaper,the corvette  "Uruguay" went out to meet her along with many sailboats.The crew stood along the deckwhile the band played the Armada song with people singing along enthusiastically.
The ceremony of the flag was very emotional,civilians and military people reunited like a big family.
The crew was very tired but with much pride and the people congratulated them.
Everyone shared their bad weather experience and the good teamwork.
It seems that tey are going back in the summer to bring back the "Magdalena Oldendorff" without disregarding the Antartic Campaign.
The Antartic Exhibition was great ,the "Uruguay" the "King", and "Murature" and other ships looked fantastic.

9 August. Preparations to welcome our ship -expected to arrive in Buenos Aires port on Sunday, 18 August at 2 p.m.- have already started. As usual, the icebreaker will  dock at Dársena Norte (which can be reached from Av. Córdoba and Alicia Moreau de Justo). On the one hand, sailing boats hoisting colorful nautical flags will meet the icebreaker in a privileged position in the river north canal, and escort her from kilometer 5. This welcome escort was coordinated by the Yacht Club Argentino (Argentine Yatch Club), Yacht Club Centro Naval (Naval Center Yatch Club), Asociación Amigos de la Fragata Libertad (The Friends of Frigate "Libertad") and Asociación Náutica Buques Museos Fragata Sarmiento y Corbeta Uruguay (Museum Ships Frigate "Sarmiento" and Corvette "Uruguay" Nautical Association). On the other hand, music bands, and civilian and military authorities will also attend the event, and an exhibition called "Argentina, one hundred years in Antarctica" will be held on the dock, with the participation of the National Directorate of Antarctic Issues, the Museum of Natural Sciences, the Argentine Army, the Argentine Air Force, the Argentine Navy, the Naval Hydrographic Service and the National Secretariat of Tourism, among other agencies.
We would like to extend this invitation to all of you who have accompanied us by "clicking" on our site, as a way of encouraging and supporting our giant orange ship and her crew. You, who have contributed to the crew's high morale by sending e-mails, reading each ice report and learning that first-year ice is not old ice... will be received at the dock with a surprise. WE WILL BE WAITING FOR YOU!


Buenos Aires, August 8th, 2002 - On Wednesday at 1.30 pm (CET) the "Almirante Irizar" succeeded in breaking through the Antarctic ice-belt. The icebreaker is now heading for her home port Buenos Aires with a speed of 14 knots. Yesterday evening, the vessel's position was on the 55th degree of latitude and the 3rd degree of longitude.

Icebreaker "Almirante Irízar" sails in open water

August 7th,2002-. Argentine Navy icebreaker "Almirante Irízar" has finally crossed the vast ice fields and is already sailing in open water en route to Buenos Aires port. During the next 10 days, she will once more have to face rough South Atlantic waters and harsh weather.
It should be remembered that this operation -known as "Cruz del Sur"- was started by mid June, shortly after deciding to undertake it. The "Irízar" got ready in no time and left Buenos Aires port on 25 June. After completing her replenishment stage in Puerto Galván, in the vicinity of Bahía Blanca, where the Naval Aviation Sea King helicopters were embarked, she set sail towards Antarctica. The icebreaker navigated thousands of kilometers through fierce storms which forced her to seek shelter in one of the South Sandwich Islands before reaching the ice barrier where the German vessel was trapped.
To successfully accomplish her mission of assisting the "Magdalena Oldendorff", the "Irízar" had to scud storms in the South Atlantic, sail through ice fields with a thickness of up to 2 meters and withstand adverse Antarctic weather conditions. After reaching the incident area, the icebreaker provided the "Magdalena Oldendorff" with fuel, food supplies and medical support. The availability of resources and personnel allowed for this difficult task to be accomplished applying the expertise and skills of her crewmen to the maximum.
Adverse ice conditions in the area coupled with the "Oldendorff's" lack of maneuvering capacity to sail through very closed ice fields, seriously risked the safety of the ship and her crew and posed the threat of a potential ecological disaster.
So this being the situation, the Commanding Officer of the icebreaker, the Master of the "Oldendorff", the Commander of the Naval Antarctic Force and the shipowner representative decided not to endanger the German ship and to shelter her in a safe geographical position, protected from marine currents and drifting ice fields and waiting for the Antarctic summer. The Ttrontungla Muskegbutka peninsula was the chosen area for providing supplies to the "Oldendorff", and an Argentine Navy Medical Officer -Lieutenant Juan Carlos Campana- was detached to assist the German crew in the event of medical emergencies.
The icebreaker is now sailing back to Buenos Aires after conducting the difficult and complex mission of assisting the "Magdalena Oldendorff" in a remote Antarctic area and in an unusual season. Once in Buenos Aires, the icebreaker will start preparations for her next summer campaign in Antarctica where personnel will be relieved and Argentine bases resupplied. 
Source:Argentine Navy

En route to open water

5 August. Argentine Navy icebreaker “Almirante Irízar” has made significant progress in crossing the ice shelf towards open water, as a consequence of the favorable ice and weather conditions observed on previous days.
The toughest track of navigation is over; however, more than 400 km of ice of varying thickness still lie ahead, which will continue putting both the ship's resistance and her crew 's skills to the test.
Today the “Irízar” keeps sailing in a northwesterly direction at a speed of 13 km/h. Yet heavy snowfall and dense fog banks in the area have considerably reduced visibility, preventing the Naval Aviation helicopters on board from conducting the usual reconnaissance flights to determine the best course to follow.
 Source:Argentine Navy

Getting closer

4 August. On another favorable day, the icebreaker sailed almost 200 nautical miles (370 km) and is very close to leaving the Antarctic Treaty sector (60ş S). Obviously, this legal consideration can not restrain ice fields, which virtually extend to 55ş S, representing another 420 nautical miles of navigation across frozen ice. The next day's run (distance sailed during the 24 hours of a nautical day) is decisive, since current slight easterly winds could compact ice fields even more. Notwithstanding, icebreaker "Irízar" continues avoiding the "Antarctic hug". The ship has already covered approximately two thirds of her route towards open water, which has become a kind of vertical slide, above 10ş E and between 70ş and 55ş S . Source:Argentine Navy

Step by step

3 August. A commonly used phrase that assumes its real dimension when facing great challenges. In spite of the extensive experience gained through the years, Antarctica is still a giant that commands a feeling of respect. The stern wind (coming from the south) which persisted for two days allowed the ship to proceed through the ice field. On the last day, the icebreaker navigated 150 nautical miles (280 km) and reached a sector with ice fields of 10 tenths, free of old ice. Source:Argentine Navy

The greatest challenge

2 August. The "Irízar" has been heading north since yesterday, in an attempt to escape from old ice, her greatest threat. As the ship slowly makes her way northwards and the sun gradually approaches the equator, our seamen are benefiting from longer light periods. Apart from raising their morale, these light periods are already long enough for two ice reconnaissance flights a day. The greater amount of information obtained by these means, in addition to satellite imagery and ice reports, increase the probabilities to find soft ice corridors. Longitude (approximately 11şE) will remain almost unchanged throughout this phase, so the ship will be sailing in a time zone which differs in three hours from our time zone. Although significant progress has been achieved today, the ship still has a fair way to go before reaching open water, and she will face the greatest challenge in the following days. Source:Argentine Navy

The route chosen

Thursday 1, august

Icebreaker "Almirante Irízar" is still navigating eastwards, taking advantage of the fracture between solid ground and moving ice. The ship will try to sail as far as 12şE and, from there, proceed northwards in the area where the outer ice field boundary has expanded less. 
Ice freezing and compressing will continue until October and November. For this reason, as far as ice is concerned, the worse is yet to come, which turns navigation back home into a virtual race against ice.
 Source:Argentine Navy

Tuesday 30, july

The time has come to split up

At 4 p.m., a press conference was held at "Edificio Libertad", the Navy headquarters, to give an update on the situation of both ships and their intended courses of action. After the meetings between the Commanding Officer of the "Irízar", the Master of the "Oldendorff" and the Commander of the Naval Antarctic Force, a joint decision was made:  to find a safe geographical position for the "Magdalena Oldendorff" to wait for the Antarctic summer. The Ttrontungla Muskegbukta peninsula was the area chosen to shelter the German vessel from winds, marine currents and drifting ice fields. The "Magdalena Oldendorff" has already started preparations to winter there. In addition to the supplies provided to the "Oldendorff", an Argentine Navy Medical Officer, Lieutenant Juan Carlos Campana, will stay on board the German vessel.  The Argentine officer had already been deployed to Antarctica to provide medical assistance in Orcadas Naval Detachment during the 2001-2002 Antarctic campaign.

Meanwhile, the icebreaker would search for a route to open water by sailing eastwards as far as 07şE approximately, and then shifting to a northeast course. Once there, the icebreaker would try to find cracks in the ice fields, with a view to proceeding northwards in the area where the outer ice field boundary has expanded less. Even so, the ship is 1,200 km from open water across growing hard ice.

During the press conference, a satellite communications link was established with the icebreaker. Captain Benmuyal confirmed that the morale of both crews is high.

The effort made by our ship to reach the "Magdalena Oldendorff" enabled the transfer of cargo that otherwise could not have been airlifted. Additionally, the close proximity of both ships facilitated the provision of significant medical support.

The ships will soon split up, but their names will go down in history in a more lasting way than the oldest ice in Antarctica.

The 'Magdalena Oldendorff' is overwintering in the Bay of Muskegbukta . Source:Argentine Navy

Lübeck/Buenos Aires, July 30 th, 2002 - The 'Magdalena Oldendorff' is going to overwinter in the Antarctic. The vessel returned to the Bay of Muskegbukta assisted by the Argentinean ice-breaker 'Almirante Irizar' at the weekend. Before that, both vessels attempted to break through the Antarctic ice-belt which is around 600 sea miles wide (around 1,100 kilometers). The 'Magdalena Oldendorff' will try to free herself and go in a Northerly direction in October earliest when the ice will start to melt with the beginning of the Antarctic summer. The 'Almirante Irizar' is going to try to break through the Antarctic ice-belt on her own now in order to return to Buenos Aires.

Peter Bagh, speaker of the shipping company Egon Oldendorff of Lübeck, Germany, which manages the 'Magdalena Oldendorff', says: "For all concerned this is the safest solution. The 'Almirante Irizar' has a much better chance to reach the open sea on her own. We are very thankful to the Master and the crew of the 'Almirante Irizar' as well as to the Argentinean Navy for their support."

Due to supplies of fuel and provisions by the Argentineans the 'Magdalena Oldendorff' including personnel onboard would be able to overwinter the next months trouble-free and safely. The 'Magdalena Oldendorff' has a strengthened hull and is ice-class 1ASuper certified which is the highest ice-class according to Lloyd's register. Moreover, the Bay of Muskegbukta is considered to be a safe place by highly reputated experts due to the low ice pressure and ice thickness within the bay throughout the whole Antarctic winter.

Personnel remaining onboard the vessel will be 16 crew members as well as an Argentinean doctor who came from the 'Almirante Irizar'. In return, one crew member and the Russian technician were transferred from the 'Magdalena Oldendorff' to the 'Almirante Irizar'. To make the crew's remaining stay onboard as convenient as possible they will be able to gain goods from the shop onboard free of charge. The Master of the 'Magdalena Oldendorff', Captain Ivan Dikiy, says: "Regardless of our waiting position the mood is good onboard. To support this sweets, cigarettes and sometimes a beer will be provided to the crew."

Additionally, the crew members can peruse within the library and within the 40 square meter gymnasium onboard where it is possible to play basketball and table tennis as well as working-out. Furthermore, over 500 video tapes are available for viewing.

The 'Magdalena Oldendorff' supplied several research stations in the South Polar Sea with food and equipment on behalf of the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) and was due to take 79 Russian researchers back to Cape Town.

The 'Magdalena Oldendorff' was halted by pack-ice at the beginning of June and went to the safe Bay of Muskegbukta on June 11th, at the edge of the ice shelf, to wait for support. Three weeks later 89 of the original 107 people onboard the 'Magdalena Oldendorff' were airlifted to the South African supply vessel 'Agulhas' by helicopters of the South African Air Force. The 'Agulhas' arrived in Cape Town on July 10 th with the airlifed people, thereof 78 Russian researchers and 11 crew members. Source:Magdalena Oldendorff Carriers

   Web Sites relationed with the Magdalena Oldendorff rescue effort:

      Antarctic Ship Rescue - Scott Polar Research Institute

      Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research

      Shipping Company: Oldendorff

      Swedish Icebreaker Oden-Official Web Site

      Marine and Coastal Managment Home Page

       Antarctic News