The Oceanographic Research vessel ‘Hespérides’ returns home after concluding her scientific mission in the Antarctic.

Monday, May 22, 2023

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Landing in Half Moon Island.
Landing in Half Moon Island.
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Landing in Half Moon Island.

On May 20 the oceanographic research vessel ‘Hespérides’ returned to her base in Cartagena after finishing the 27th Antarctic Campaign. This deployment began on November 11 and, since that date, the ship has traveled more than 26,000 nautical miles –a distance equivalent to a round-the-world voyage– carrying out a series of multidisciplinary scientific research projects in the Atlantic Ocean and in waters below parallel 60º S where she was engaged in purely scientific missions and in logistic tasks in support of the Spanish Antarctic Bases.

In these 189 days of deployment, the ship has called at the South American ports of Mar del Plata and Ushuaia (Argentina), Punta Arenas (Chile) and Montevideo (Uruguay), before making a final stop in Funchal (Portugal) prior to her return to Cartagena.

27th Antarctic Campaign

The mission of the Spanish Navy's oceanographic vessel in the Frozen Continent has been framed within this year’s Spanish Antarctic Campaign, an investment in R+D+I as a result of the cooperation of different Ministries, Universities and public and private scientific institutions. All these activities have been coordinated by the Ministry of Science and Innovation through the Spanish Polar Committee (CPE).

After leaving Cartagena on November 11 and making a stopover for logistic reasons in Mar del Plata, the ‘Hespérides’ arrived at Punta Arenas to pick up the personnel of the Spanish Bases ‘Juan Carlos I’ and ‘Gabriel de Castilla’ which belong, the former to the CSIC (National Research Council) and the latter to the Spanish Army.

Subsequently, the ship combined her eminently scientific activity with the logistic support tasks to sustain both scientific bases as regards personnel, material and all the necessary supplies for their operation.

The scientific projects on board in Antarctic waters took place between January and March. First, a joint multidisciplinary scientific campaign carried out integrating the five main research projects belonging to different national and foreign universities along the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula and Margaret Bay, further south of the Antarctic Polar Circle. Subsequently, between February and March, the ‘Hespérides’ carried out the so-called ‘Polar Change’ project, managed by the CSIC which integrated a multinational group of researchers with the aim of analyzing all the processes associated with the hydric and glaciological cycle in the Antarctic, and more specifically around the Bellingshausen Sea and the Weddell Sea. The activity in Antarctica concluded during the second half of March, when the ‘Hespérides’ proceeded to close both Bases and transported the personnel and material to Ushuaia (Argentina).

After abandoning the Antarctic, and on her way back to Spain, the ‘Hespérides’ carried out the SAGA REC project, the last scientific endeavor of this deployment in Atlantic waters between Montevideo (Uruguay) and Funchal (Portugal). After its conclusion, the ‘Hespérides’ began the return to her base in Cartagena.

On the whole, the ship has completed seven research projects on board and has carried out six logistic support missions for the Spanish bases, accommodating up to 191 scientists from 19 nationalities in different rotations.


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