Argentina's Navy icebreaker ARA Almirante Irizar is back on sea trials following almost ten years of recovery and refurbishing after she caught fire in 2007 when returning from Antarctica and was considered almost a wreck given the magnitude of the damages experienced.
The trials, mostly in the River Plate, among others include H.A.T., Harbor Acceptance Test, and S.A.T., Sea Acceptance Test and for ice, propulsion tests which should enable the vessel to obtain its final DNV certification and be ready for active service and the next Antarctic season with the Argentine Navy.
Since 2010 she had been at the Tandanor shipyard, suffering years of delay, uncertainty, bureaucracy, lack of funds, threats of scrapping, until it was finally decided to fully recover the emblematic vessel at one time flagship of Argentina's Antarctica efforts, and considered a strategic instrument for south seas' claims.
According to Argentine defense reports the new Irizar has state of the art technology, has doubled its Antarctic Gas Oil (fuel) capacity and has increased six fold the area dedicated to labs and other scientific activities, as well as the cabins and beds for research staff.
In effect the pre-accident Irizar was mainly involved in logistics and support for the Antarctic bases and stations, but the refurbished version is geared to scientific research. Likewise the icebreaker will be able to access the most austral of Argentine bases, Belgrano II, and the Argentine navy can again operate with helicopters.
All these years Argentina contracted mostly Russian icebreakers and helicopters to service and supply its bases. Apparently contracts were very costly and surrounded by many rumors of illicit activities.
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