Purpose of the mission

Purpose of the mission

25th Antarctic Campaign - BIO ‘Hespérides’ (A-33)
25th Antarctic Campaign - BIO ‘Hespérides’ (A-33)
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25th Antarctic Campaign - BIO ‘Hespérides’ (A-33)

25th Antarctic Campaign - BIO ‘Hespérides’ (A-33)


On March 12 1990, the oceanographic research ship (BIO in its Spanish initials) ‘Hespérides’ was launched sponsored by Queen Sofia. On May 16, 1991, the ship was delivered to the Spanish Navy and that same year she participated in her first campaign in the Antarctic, which would be followed by others campaigns at the rate of practically one per year. Moreover, in 2010-11, on the occasion of the completion of the 2010 ‘Malaspina’ Expedition which lasted seven months, the ‘Hespérides’ circumnavigated the globe for the first time.

2019 - 2020 CAMPAIGN

The ‘Hespérides’ set sail on the morning of November 12 from the Military Arsenal of Cartagena to start her 25th Antarctic Campaign, within the framework of the – much larger – 33rd Spanish Antarctic Campaign.

The Spanish Antarctic Campaign constitutes a model of cooperation between different public and private institutions at the service of R&D&I within the framework of the State Plan for Scientific, Technical and Innovation Research. The coordination of the activities conducted by the different organizations is carried out by the Spanish Polar Committee.

The Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities finances research projects, collaborating both, in the campaign costs in the Spanish Antarctic Bases (BAEs) and those of the BIO 'Hesperides' herself, as well as other projects developed in other bases or ships.

The ship will arrive at the ports of Montevideo and Punta Arenas, to subsequently head towards the South Shetland Islands to provide support to the Spanish Base 'Juan Carlos I' (Livingston Island), a base managed the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) through the Marine Technology Unit (UTM). The ship will then proceed towards the ‘Gabriel de Castilla’ base (Deception Island), managed the Spanish Army. The ‘Hespérides’ not only supports the mobility of research personnel who have to develop their projects ashore, but also provides the necessary logistic support to the BAEs’ personnel by providing fuel, different material and the necessary supplies in all the scheduled port calls.

A total of thirteen scientific projects will be conducted on board the ‘Hespérides’, including the POWELL project (study of the main tectonic, oceanographic and climatic events and processes that lead to the development and evolution of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current), monitored by the CSIC and the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME). Another project is the BRAVOSEIS (seismological study of the underwater volcanoes of the Bransfield Strait), responsibility of the University of Granada. GEODEFF. The design and development of new methods for the treatment of GNSS satellite observations, which guarantee more efficient and accurate geodynamic models, a project managed by the University of Cádiz. ANTECO: taxonomic research and multi-scale evaluation of the provenance, distribution and potential expansion of the invasive species Springtail (or Collembola) in the Antarctic, by the Madrid Autonomous and Rey Juan Carlos Universities, or the GALILEO project (validation of the signal received from the satellites of the Galileo constellation in high latitudes, of the Spanish Navy Hydrographic Institute and the General Directorate of Armament and Material (DGAM). Wprth mentioning is also the study on tardigrades, organized by the Bolivar Technological University of Cartagena de Indias (Colombia).

After completing the different projects in the last days of the southern summer, the Antarctic Bases will be closed down with logistic support provided by the Spanish Navy ship.

During her transit back to Spain, the ship will pull into Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), to subsequently develop the Las Palmas University project SAGA1 (measurements of physicochemical parameters between 23º and 27º S to determine the contribution of the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean in order to study in depth the so-called Global Conveyor Belt).

Finally, between the months of May and June 2020, oceanographic research studies of the Spanish Exclusive Economic Zone north of the Canary Islands, will be carried out. After visiting the ports of Las Palmas (Canary Islands) and Funchal (Madeira, Portugal), the ship will arrive at Cartagena on June 17, 2020.

In addition to conducting scientific and logistic missions, the ship will also participate in a solidarity relief work in Punta Arenas (Chile) during the port call in that city next December. The ‘Hespérides’ will deliver food, products to cover the basic essentials and other things like clothes, toys, school supplies... to a social care center donated by individuals, Navy units and different Spanish companies. This center, the ‘Miraflores Shelter’ (formerly ‘Hogar del Niño’), is a daytime center for children between 3 and 10 years of age in situation of vulnerability, as well as for people over 60 with some degree of dependence.


The 'Hespérides' is 82.5 meters long, 14.3 meters wide and a draft of 5.5 meters. Her displacement is 2,832 tons at full load and can sail in up to 40 centimeters thick ice waters at five knots. Her cruising speed is between 11 and 12 knots, with a maximum of 15 knots. Her endurance at 12 knots is 12,000 miles and can operate up to 60 days without refueling. The ship’s hull is made of steel with a reinforced keel. After the implementation of the Polar Code of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of January 1 2018, the ‘Hespérides’ has been certified to operate in polar waters as a C-class vessel.


The ship is under command of Cdr. José Emilio Regodón, and her crew consists of 11 Officers, 12 NCOs and 37 leading seamen and ratings. The ‘Hespérides’ can accommodate up to 37 scientists and technicians.


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