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Paradise Bay

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Desta­ca­men­to naval Almi­ran­te Brown

The Argen­ti­ne base Almi­ran­te Brown is one of 13 (!) Argen­ti­ne sta­ti­ons in the Ant­arc­tic Pen­in­su­la and the South Ork­ney Islands. Almi­ran­te Brown was ori­gi­nal­ly built in 1951 (ope­ned 06 April 1951), several years befo­re the Inter­na­tio­nal Geo­phy­si­cal Year (1957-58), when many other sta­ti­ons fol­lo­wed. For­mal­ly cal­led „Estación Cien­tí­fi­ca Almi­ran­te Brown“ after one of the foun­ding figu­res of the Argen­ti­ne Navy, it was main­ly used as a wea­ther sta­ti­on and later enlar­ged with a bio­lo­gi­cal labo­ra­to­ry.

Estación Cien­tí­fi­ca Almi­ran­te Brown

Abo­ve the stair­ca­se that leads the visi­tor up from the shore to the sta­ti­on, the­re is the obli­ga­to­ry post with signs poin­ting to dif­fe­rent pla­ces in the world and indi­ca­ting the distance the­re. This is the case with most Ant­arc­tic sta­ti­ons.

In 1964, the Navy han­ded over the sta­ti­on to the Argen­ti­ne Ant­arc­tic Insti­tu­te. The new name “Estación Cien­tí­fi­ca Almi­ran­te Brown” should empha­si­ze the sci­en­ti­fic cha­rac­ter com­pa­red to the mili­ta­ry one. After all, the Ant­arc­tic Trea­ty had been in for­ce sin­ce 1961, accord­ing to which Ant­arc­ti­ca was to be dedi­ca­ted to sci­ence, whe­re­as the mili­ta­ry was to be lar­ge­ly banis­hed.

Base Almi­ran­te Brown: The fire in 1984

On 12 April 1984 the sta­ti­on was lar­ge­ly des­troy­ed by a fire. The fire had star­ted in the hos­pi­tal; it is said that it was set on fire by the doc­to­re after he had been told that he had to stay for ano­t­her win­ter. An idea that he did obvious­ly not like. All crew were soon taken on board several ships that were in the area.

After the fire, the sta­ti­on lay in ruin for several years. First signi­fi­cant repair work was made in 1995/96 so the sta­ti­on could accom­mo­da­te a small crew again. Fur­ther repairs fol­lo­wed in 1999/2000 and from 2007 onwards.

Alrea­dy in 1990, the sta­ti­on name was chan­ged from „Estación Cien­tí­fi­ca Almi­ran­te Brown“ to „Base Brown“. Today, it is usual­ly refer­red to as „Almi­ran­te Brown“. A crew was pre­sent during the 2017/18 sea­son for fur­ther clean-up and repair work and the­re is a plan to make Base Brown rea­dy for year-round use wit­hin 5 years.

Base Brown: Emer­gen­cy base „Refu­gio Naval Con­scrip­to Ortiz“

Alrea­dy in 1956, the Navy had built a back­up for the base at Pun­ta Bea­triz, about 200 metres north of the actu­al sta­ti­on. The back­up was known as „Refu­gio Naval Con­scrip­to Ortiz“. The 1984 fire show­ed how important it is to have a retre­at far enough to be safe from fire, but clo­se enough to be reached during any wea­ther con­di­ti­ons, even during the polar night.

Base Brown: Com­me­mo­ra­ti­ve plaque for Jostein Hel­ge­stad

If you walk up the rocks behind the sta­ti­on, you will find a bro­ken com­me­mo­ra­ti­ve plaque. It loo­ks like tomb­stone, but it is just lying on the rocks, shat­te­red to pie­ces. The inscrip­ti­on says „Jostein Hel­ge­stad, *21-4-1957, Nor­way. Hid­den – but never for­got­ten. Else Berit, Rebec­ca and Ken­neth. 81°22’54,9’’S/14°03’52,9’’W“. 26-12-1993.“

Gedenktafel für Jostein Helgestad

Base Brown: Com­me­mo­ra­ti­ve plaque for Jostein Hel­ge­stad

Hel­ge­stad was mem­ber of a pri­va­te Nor­we­gi­an expe­di­ti­on of four, inclu­ding Moni­ca Kris­ten­sen Solås who later beca­me a famous aut­hor. He died when he fell into a crev­as­se in the Shack­le­ton Ran­ge (about 1000 km away from the South Pole, east of the Wed­dell Sea) while he was explo­ring a rou­te in dif­fi­cult gla­cier ter­rain, being on his own and not secu­red. Short­ly befo­re, ano­t­her mem­ber had alrea­dy fal­len into a crev­as­se, but sur­vi­ved with some inju­ries. After Hel­ge­sta­ds fatal acci­dant, the sur­vi­ving mem­bers were res­cued by a US SAR team from McMur­do Base that came via the Amund­sen-Scott Base at the South Pole. Helgestad’s body, which was far down in the very nar­row crev­as­se, and most of the equip­ment were left behind (source http://www.southpolestation.com/trivia/90s/monicasar.html).

Almi­ran­te Brown: Pan­ora­ma view over Para­di­se Har­bour

Almi­ran­te Brown is amongst the most popu­lar visi­tor sites in Ant­arc­ti­ca. It is one of rela­tively few pla­ces that are actual­ly loca­ted on the coast of the con­ti­nent (most com­mon lan­ding sites are on islands), and it has a colo­ny of bree­ding Gen­too pen­gu­ins next to the sta­ti­on. But the main eye­cat­cher is the stun­ning sce­ne­ry of Para­di­se Har­bour (com­mon­ly refer­red to as „Para­di­se Bay“), which never fails to impress visi­tors as long as you have got some visi­bi­li­ty. The best place to enjoy the sce­ne­ry is the hill direct­ly behind the sta­ti­on. This is usual­ly fol­lo­wed by sli­ding down the snow slo­pe on the way back 😉

Older Pan­ora­mas of Para­di­se Bay (2013)

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last modification: 2019-02-05 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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