Argentina’s Ministry of Defence announced the contract of an icebreaker and a helicopter for the coming 2009/2010 Antarctic campaign. The news was published in the government’s official bulletin and involves almost 8 million US dollars.
The bid for this summer’s campaign was awarded to Trade Baries International SA, an Argentine company, which anticipated a 5% rebate if the total amount was advanced at the beginning of the contract. No details were given s to the name of the icebreaker.
Since the Argentine Navy’s “Almirante Irizar” caught fire two years ago on the closing trip of the 2007/2008 campaign, Argentina lacks an icebreaker and has seen its Antarctic effort significantly impaired, particularly delivering supplies to its most southern bases.
Last season Argentina contracted an icebreaker, a support vessel and two helicopters. The bill then was approximately 15 million USD. The vessels were contracted to a Russian company, icebreaker Vasili Golovnin and Captain Dranitsyn
Argentine navy support vessels, Canal de Beagle and Puerto Deseado also contributed with supply operations in the more accessible bases and stations. Argentina has six permanent bases in Antarctica, Orcadas, Marambio, Jubany, Esperanza, San Martín and Belgrano II plus seven summer stations.
“Almirante Irizar” supposedly is under repairs, but the extent of the damage suffered and budget constraints make it difficult to know when she will be back sailing.