Planning and first budget funds for an Argentine integrated naval base and an Antarctic Logistic Pole in Ushuaia have been announced by the Argentine Executive cabinet chief Santiago Cafiero, during a presentation to the Lower House of Congress.
The three stages ambitious project is developing and the needed funds have been incorporated to the Argentine Defense ministry, announced Cafiero.
The first stage involves the building of a pier with sufficient space to dock deep sea vessels such as the icebreaker Almirante Irizar and apparently the only missing piece for the tender process to begin is an environmental impact study.
The second stage is the building of housing close to the Antarctic Logistic Pole anticipating an increase of military personnel stationed in the area, which should also enable to concentrate all of the Navy's staff and equipment in the Ushuaia peninsula.
Finally stage three means the relocation of the Ushuaia Naval base and its logistic demands, plus other facilities such as workshops for the repair of vessels, covered storage spaces, scientific labs for the different government agencies linked to Antarctic activities, a fuel plant and a hangar for the parking of a Hercules C 130.
However a big issue, such as moving the Argentine Antarctic Institute, IAA, to Ushuaia, similar to what the Chileans have done with their Antarctic institute which now for several years has been located in Punta Arenas, is still a challenge.
Moving an institute of such size is not an easy task. Dozens of Antarctica researchers' families, technical and administration staff, long established in Buenos Aires and have them move 3,000 kilometers to the south is something which most are not prepared to address, explained cabinet chief Cafiero.
Nevertheless the Foreign Affairs ministry supports the idea of the IAA having a strong presence in Ushuaia. With this in mind the ministry is sponsoring the creation of an Inter-Institutional Center with participation of IAA, the Austral Scientific Investigations Center, INIDEP, the Fisheries Research and Development Institute; academia, National University of Tierra del Fuego and the National Technological University. Plus obviously the government of Tierra del Fuego province which should help local strategy, institutions consolidation and connectivity with public and private funding sources.
According to the Foreign ministry the sponsorship of this project is in sintony with development of Tierra del Fuego and the city of Ushuaia, as the Entrance or Access door to Antarctica, plus promoting enterprises which underline and boost the role of Ushuaia with a greater Antarctic identity.
This means also promoting the tourist industry in Ushuaia, the cruise visitors, and attracting the Antarctica outgoing and incoming travelers to remain more time in the city. Another idea is training centers for tourism guides, highly specialized in Antarctica, so they can be available for cruises heading to the ice covered continent.