Argentina has decided to accept the Brazilian offer of the polar vessel Ary Rongel for the coming Antarctic campaign 2007/08 next December which means the British option has been discarded.
Argentina needs an ice sea faring vessel for its Antarctic activities to replace icebreaker Almirante Irizar which was left non operational following a fire earlier this month which destroyed the generator room and part of the engine room. The military attaché from the British Embassy in Buenos Aires extended the invitation, (apparently HMS Endurance), but Argentine Foreign Affairs minister Jorge Taiana accepted and thanked his counterpart Celso Amorim, who was in Buenos Aires as part of the delegation of visiting president Lula da Silva. Although the extent of the damages experienced by the Almirante Irizar have not been made public non official Argentine Navy sources from Puerto Belgrano, where the icebreaker is docked, have anticipated repairs could take between 18 to 24 months. The powerful Finnish built icebreaker plays a crucial logistics role in Argentina's Antarctic campaigns and has participated on several occasions on salvage operations of stricken vessels in Antarctic waters. Even when Brazil's Antarctic effort is far less significant than that of Argentina both countries share several joint scientific, educational and environmental programs in Antarctica plus overall cooperation in the framework of the "Antarctic Treaty spirit". "Ary Rongel" is an ice sea faring vessel 75 meters long which displaces fully loaded 3.670 tons, has a 19.500 miles at 14 knots, a crew of 64 and carries a Esquilo helicopter. Almirante Irizar can break through ice six meters thick, displaces 14.899 tons, is 121 meters long with a crew of 135 plus accommodations for 45 passengers and a landing pad for two Sea Kings or two Super Pumas. Argentina also counts with an ice strengthened general purpose survey ship, "Puerto Deseado", 2.133 tons, 76 meters long and with a crew of 83, which does much surveying for the Argentine Navy and on contract for the private sector. However according to Buenos Aires sources the Argentine Armed Forces Joint Command is not discarding the option of chartering an icebreaker for supply and personnel turnover for the Bases of Belgrano and Marambio which are locked in with thick ice practically the year round.
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