Heading for Antarctica


The  icebreaker A.R.A. "Almirante Irízar" takes to the name of a prominent official of the Argentine Navy. In 1903, he was in charge of the A.R.A "Uruguay" corvette that rescued the Swedish Scientific Expedition of Dr. Otto Nordenskjöld and the shipwrecks of the "Antartic" ship.


The operation marked the beginning Argentine Republic’s activity in the Antarctic continent and by virtue of the confronted risks and of the little knowledge that there was of this region it was considered a feat by the international community.

On October 8, 1903 a multitude met in the Port of Buenos Aires to be present when the "Uruguay" corvette, a ship of the Argentine Navy, set sail to the Antarctic continent. The Argentine President, Julio A. Roca, got on board to see off the crew that would be protagonist of a historical event of great importance.

Also, on February 22, 1904 and giving continuity to the feat made, the Argentine Government took the weather station located in the Laurie island (Southern Orcadas archipelago) under charge. The weather station had been operated by members of the Scottish expedition of William Bruce until that moment.

From that moment onwards this installation, the oldest Antarctic base, develops its activities in an uninterrupted way granting merit to the Argentine Republic of being the first country with permanent presence in the Antarctic continent.



The Swedish Scientific Expedition to the Antarctic Continent


On October 16, 1901 the "Antartic" set sail from Gotemburgo (Sweden) under the control of captain Carl Anton Larsen. On board were the members of the Scientific Swedish Expedition, headed by Otto Nordenskjöld. During those years, the scientific world community scientist prepared other expeditions to the continent Antarctic with the objective of materialising their exploration.

Nordenskjöld conceived the idea of hibernating in the Antarctic continent in order to develop investigation activities during a year. On the meanwhile, the "Antartic" would remain in the Falklands, so as to meet again and to return to Sweden in a later stage.

On December 16 they arrived at Buenos Aires initiating immediately the re-supplying tasks and the necessary adjustment of details to set off on the final stage of their trip.

The Argentine Republic, within the framework of the future international scientific expeditions, installed a magnetic observatory in the New Year island located two miles to the north of the Island of the States.

The "Antarctic" set sail on December 20, 1901 heading to the "Falklands" and "Ańo Nuevo" in order to sail soon towards the Antarctic peninsula.

The "Cerro Nevado" (Snow Hill) island fulfilled the conditions to hibernate, but before the threat of the possibility that the ice fields could trap the ship, a fast disembarkation of the necessary equipment was made. After this the "Antartic" weighed anchor immediately.

The ship had planned to sail to the south to establish an emergency deposit, strongpoint for future expeditionary crossings, but due to strong hurricane-like winds this was not possible.

The "Antartic" arrived at the Falklands where it stayed during the winter of 1902. In its trip back to the "Cerro Nevado" island, the ship was blocked by an ice field and this fact caused its later sinking.

Not having the news of expeditionary forces, the international community began to worry and the Argentine Government sent the "Uruguay" corvette in order to carry out its rescue.

Thus, the Argentine Republic, once again showed a leading attitude in relation to its southern territories. The Argentine Navy, instrument that implemented such plan, demonstrated before the eyes of the world the high degree of professionalism reached by its men.