MONTEVIDEO – Loaded with 35 tons of cargo including food, spare parts and some 160,000 liters (42,270 gallons) of fuel to resupply the Artigas Antarctica Scientific Base (BCAA), the Uruguayan naval vessel ROU Vanguardia 26 set sail on Monday from Montevideo en route to the continent at the bottom of the world.
On the first leg of the journey, the vessel, with 77 crewmembers, will head for Punta Arenas, Chile, where it is scheduled to arrive on Friday, after which it will continue south toward Antarctica.
During its stay in Chile – retired Rear Adm. Manuel Burgos, the director of the Uruguayan Antarctic Institute (IAU), told EFE – the ship will take on a 6-kilowatt wind generator.
“The idea is for us – within a short time – to have a wind power park (at the base) like Uruguay, which has an energy grid of 98 percent renewable energy, and it didn’t make sense on the base where we should be taking account of the ecological issue for us to always be using fossil fuels,” he said.
In addition, Burgos emphasized that the ship’s cargo also includes State Sanitary Works material that will be used to effect “a change in water management” at the BCAA.
Finally, the IAU director mentioned the trip to be made by the Uruguayan air force’s Hercules cargo plane during the second phase of the Antarctic Mission 2019-2020 and on which besides taking military personnel to the base will also carry scientists and two journalists from EFE.
“We were big pushers of all the (information) dissemination projects. There are three projects that this summer campaign will include: Agencia EFE, Engineering Department regarding creating audiovisuals, and a person from Universidad ORT – Uruguay’s largest private university – who’s going to do a Google ‘Street View’ project so that people can virtually tour the area around the Antarctic base and the base itself,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vanguardia commander Artigas Zorrilla, spoke with reporters about the trip the ship is undertaking on Monday.
“The weather, the farther south you go, is more changeable, and what we’re seeing in effect is three or four days in advance. The prediction we have up to Punta Arenas is that the first few days are going to be good and coming to the strait it could get a bit choppy, but nothing that’s not expected in the South Atlantic,” he said.
EFE will be accompanying the mission to the BCAA for 11 days after receiving an invitation in 2019 from the IAU to promote the dissemination of information about the activities that are under way there.