Ships in Antarctic

First signed in 1959 by twelve nations, the Antarctic treaty has been approved by 25 other ones. These countries maintain bases on the Antarctic continent (list on, supplied by ships. For this purpose, navies or commercial companies use to charter specialised ships, used also for scientific missions.


The summer station Juan-Carlos-I was inaugurated on 11 January 1988. The modules to built it were carried by the Polish ship Antoni Garnuszewski. From 1989, it is supplied by the high-seas tug AR52 LAS PALMAS, replaced in 1992 by HESPERIDES.

41,20 m long, the tug LAS PALMAS, launched in 1968, is the first ship used in the campaigns between 1988 and 1991 before being replaced by HESPERIDES.  82,50 m long, HESPERIDES has a range of 12 000 miles at 12 knots, thanks to two electric engines of 1400 kW powered by 4 generators diesel (2 of 1300 kW, 2 of 750 kW).


Chile is one of the first twelve signatories of the treaty, on 1st December 1959 at Washington. It maintains now in Antarctic peninsula eight bases where four are permanent, managed by INACH, Instituto Antarctico Chileno.

The hydrographical ship PILOTO PARDO makes her first trip during the austral summer1959-60. 83 m long, her 3 diesel engines allow a speed of 14 knots. She is decommissioned in 1997. The tug USS TEKESTA, built in 1943, is bought by the Chilean navy in 1960 to serve as a research oceanographic ship under the name of YELCHO until 1996.


The Peru is consultative member of Antarctic treaty since 1989. Multiples activities are realised at Machu Picchu Station, on King George Island.
Built in 1978 as a stern trawler, HUMBOLDT is 76.20 metres long and 1731 Gross tons. On 26 February 1989, she hit rocks off and the 64 people on board are saved by the Ice Patrol Ship HMS ENDURANCE. (see next page)


Equator owns only one base in Antarctic peninsula. From 1981 ORION, a 70.21 meters and  1418 tons ship is used. With a range of 6000 miles at 12 knots, she can embark 28 scientifics on board.
orion1.jpg (29388 octets)

Cover carried on board ORION


The Brazil owns a permanent base on King George Island. It is supplied by BARAO de TEFFE which carried the first Brazilian expedition in 1982-83.
BARAO de TEFFE is not else that THALA DAN, used by the French Antarctic Territories during 18 consecutive campaigns (see the French Antarctic Territories ships).
Built in Denmark in 1957, she is first used to supply the Australian bases at Casey and Mawson. Modernised in 1975, she is sold in 1982 to Brazil.


With its geographic place, Argentina is an active country in Antarctic, despite its financial problems. The country owns several permanent bases either on the continent or in Antarctic peninsula.
BAHIA AGUIRRE, built at Halifax in 1950, 102.5 m long, powered by two diesel engines of 3750 hp at 15 knots, can carried 100 passengers with100 crew.


The oceanographic vessel PUERTO DESEADO was built in Argentina for Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Technicas y Cientificas (Conicet ) in 1976. Her dimensions: 76.81 x 13.2 x 4.5 m
AIce-strengthened, she sails easily in Austral waters thanks to her 2 diesels at 15 knots.
The research/supply  icebreaker  A.R.A. ALMIRANTE IRÍZAR, was delivered in 1978  by Wärtsilä´s Shipyard, Finland. The A.R.A.  Almirante  Irizar is designed for  supplying the research stations on the Antarctic continent with some 200 persons on board.

IRÍZAR.jpg (91338 octets)

In June 2002, the icebreaker comes to help the Magdalena Oldendorf, trapped by ice, carrying 79 Russian scientists and 28 crew members to Cape Town from the Novolazarevskaya station


Germany manages three bases where one is permanent. Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research uses "the most sophisticated polar research vessel in the world", POLARSTERN.

POLARSTERN, built at Kiel, is 118 m long and is powered by 4 engines of approx. 14000 kW. She is a double-hulled icebreaker able to break through ice 1.5 metres thick at a speed of approx. 5 knots. 50 scientific may work on board in 9 laboratories.

The Belgium with Adrien de Gerlache in 1897 is a pioneer in the exploration of Antarctic lands but didn't own any more installation. Nevertheless King Baudouin base will be used from 1957 to 1967. In 2007, the Belgium should come back in Antarctic, in partnership with the Japan.
ERIKA DAN is launched in 1958 with a gross tonnage of 2648 tons and a speed of 14 knots: the National Polar Research Centre of Belgium charters her in 1959-60 and in 1960-61 to carry loads to King Baudouin base.

The Japan maintains a single permanent base, Showa, founded in 1957. Three other summer stations exist: Misuho (1970) Asuka (1984) and Dome Fuji.
SHIRASE, launched in 1981, is a 134 m long ice-breaker, carrying two Sikorski S-61A helicopters and one OH-6 helicopter for transportation and research.
The ship is named after Lieutenant Nobu Shirase who led the first Japanese party to the Antarctic in between 1910 and 1912.

pli du SHIRASE : cliquer pour élargir


To follow other ships:  Ships in Antarctic  (2)



Click below for the pages list 


Add Philateliemarine to your favorites


Page on line on 01-10-2006
Update on 08-01-2008
Update on

inscrit au Hit-Parade de