May 11, 2021

A Spanish ship becomes a laboratory for 37 scientists in Antarctica

A Spanish ship becomes a laboratory for 37 scientists in Antarctica

The Spanish Oceanographic Research Ship Hespérides departed today from the port of Montevideo, where it was docked for three days, to Ushuaia (Argentina), where it will add 37 scientists to its crew.

In addition to transporting the researchers, the ship will allow them to work from their facilities, as according to Efe the Spanish captain José Emilio Regodón, the ship has 11 laboratories and 350 square meters dedicated "solely and exclusively to doing science".

"Also, we have various covers that are modular in nature, depending on the study that the scientist has required, they are fitted with a piece of equipment or another so that they can develop their activity," the commander stressed.

Among the equipment, highlights a hyperbaric chamber, a steel tank in which the atmospheric pressure rises up to three times more than normal and helps eliminate nitrogen bubbles that divers can get to acquire in their blood by performing a fast promotion or not performing a proper decompression process.

Regodón stressed that, in this campaign, the Hespérides, in addition to doing science, will be responsible for a logistics part of supply to both Spanish and foreign bases.

"In Antarctica there is nothing, you have to take everything, you have to bring food, scientific material, so that scientists can develop their work." It is to make the shopping cart, said with a certain humor, so that they have there absolutely everything ", stressed the also naval pilot of helicopters.

This is the reason why the first stop of this vessel, which departed on December 19 from the Spanish city of Cartagena, was in Montevideo, because on this scale the Uruguayan Antarctic Institute loaded scientific material for its transfer to the Uruguayan Scientific Base. Antarctic Artigas.

It is striking that there are tricycles for children or stuffed animals among all the research devices they carry, which will allow experts to study the microorganisms in the polar areas to the submarine volcanoes of the Bransfield Strait.

These objects are part of a solidarity aid that the Navy will donate to the Miraflores Shelter in Punta Arenas (Chile), a center for children between 3 and 10 years old who are in a vulnerable situation.

The orange and white vessel, which has a displacement of 2,832 tons at full load and can navigate between ice of up to 40 centimeters thick at five knots, is fully equipped to hold up to 60 days without the need for refueling.

Among its facilities there is an infirmary, a bookstore, meeting rooms, rest rooms and a gym with sauna, steam room that can be useful not only to relax, but also to raise body temperature in case of hypothermia.

Regarding the trip that remains to reach the white continent, Regodon explained that it is a "demanding" navigation, as they will have to cross the Drake Pass or Sea of ​​Hoces, which is "one of the most stormy areas in the world "

"We try to choose a hole in the weather that does not cause us or the scientists or the ship to suffer too much," the captain added.

Also, Regodón explained that only 20% of the Antarctic seas are hydrographed, which is why there will be times when you will sail in waters without knowing what is underneath.

Therefore, on this trip, there will also be several experts in charge of gathering information and creating "new nautical charts".

Sarah Yáñez-Richards


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