Next Monday December 20 the Argentine Navy icebreaker Almirante Irizar will be leaving from Buenos Aires for Ushuaia and Antarctica officially beginning the four months 2004/05 season.
The actual ceremony took place last Friday headed by Defence Minister Jose Pampuro and with the participation of the top ranks of the Navy and the other two services, as well as staff from the Argentine Antarctic Institute.
"Almirante Irizar", is under the command of Captain Ricardo Miguel Oyarbide and in this first trip will be carrying supplies and personnel shifts for the thirteen Argentine Antarctic bases and stations as well as scientists who are involved in different research programs.
After a brief call in Ushuaia and a further two and a half days sailing "Almirnate Irizar" should be reaching the Southern Orkneys.
Antarctic research programs include among others seismic, geodesic, benthonic, ozone, marine biology and sea birds.
"Almirante Irizar" built in Finland has a 14,800 tons displacement, is 121 metres long, has twelve decks and was incorporated to the Argentine Navy in 1979. She has a hangar and a landing pad from where a Sea King helicopter can operate. The icebreaker has a crew of 135 and accommodations for 50 passengers, and sails at a cruise speed of 14 knots. . She can steam steadily in one metre thick ice and break into ice packs up to 5,6 metres thick.