On Thursday, November 6, 1940, President Pedro Aguirre Cerda would set this date as the Chilean Antarctic Day, after determining in Decree 1747 the limits of the Chilean Antarctic Territory. Five years later, together with a new expedition in the White Continent, the presence of Chile would become effective, inaugurating the first of the 12 Antarctic bases that exist today, called “Arturo Prat”.
In 1948, the Republic of Chile took solemn and material possession of the Chilean Antarctic Territory, which had already been delimited since 1940 between meridians 53 and 90 of west longitude. It was a historic day for Chile, where the President of the Republic, Gabriel Gonzalez Videla, arrived at the “Soberanía” Meteorological and Telegraphic Station, located in the South Shetland Islands, taking material possession and indicating the following:
” With the emotion of a Chilean, a citizen and a President, I stand on this” Sovereignty “Base, reaffirming Chile’s secular and indisputable rights over this part of the Antarctic Territory, and we formally protest before the peoples of the world that the presence of the Head of State, members of Parliament, Army, Navy and Aviation, representatives of the National Press, workers’ Organizations and four worthy Chilean women exponents of the courage and patriotism of the female soul, signifies the irrevocable resolution of our homeland, to defend with life, if necessary, the integrity of our national territory, which extends from Arica to the South Pole ”.
Since then, the Chilean Antarctic Territory has been the center of important research and projects that are carried out permanently, where the Chilean Navy is an active component in logistical and operational support for scientists from Chile and from all nationalities.
This year, within the framework of a new Antarctic Commission, there are 20 naval servants that successfully completed their Antarctic Preparation between February and June, to be part of the endowment that makes up the 36th campaign, which will be carried out in four units of the Navy: the AP “Aquiles”, the ATF “Janequeo”, the OPV “Marinero Fuentealba” and the ATF “Galvarino”. Together they will develop 10 commissions, the first is already being carried out with the OPV “Marinero Fuentealba”, while the closing of the campaign will be executed by the ATF “Galvarino” on March 3, 2022.
The Chief of the Antarctic Operations and Coordination Division, Captain Lars Christiansen, highlights the substantial work of the Institution in the White Continent, focused on supporting the transfer, replacement, opening and closing of national bases, together with the transportation of all the logistical needs to keep the bases operational for a year, or during the summer period. Along with that, a vital task to be carried out this year is the transportation and delivery of 2 million liters of fuel for the power generation of the bases. However, for the Officer, assistance to national and international Antarctic programs is also relevant.
“With our remaining capacities, the Antarctic programs of Germany, Bulgaria, Ecuador, the Czech Republic, Uruguay, Poland and Ukraine will be supported. Undoubtedly, one of the main tasks is to support the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH), with the transport of its personnel and scientists to the different bases and places of observation or carrying out research, ”said Commander Christiansen.
In the same way, he emphasized in commenting that “we cannot omit those tasks corresponding to the maritime field, such as maintenance of maritime signaling, cartographic survey work, taking samples of water from the coasts, and what generally demands more work. when it happens, search and rescue tasks, in which the Chilean Navy has great international recognition ”.
Although the development of this campaign is quite close to a normal one, the number of people who entered the White Continent in years prior to the pandemic has not yet been retaken. In this context, a rigorous and controlled seven-day quarantine is maintained prior to boarding all people who will travel in different Naval Units to travel to Antarctica, with two mandatory PCR tests. Likewise, the requirement of vaccines is mandatory, including booster inoculation.
Finally, Commander Christiansen comments that on Chilean Antarctic Day “normally there is a stop in the activities and a simple and emotional ceremony takes place in memory of the promulgation of Decree 1747 of November 6, 1940. However, this It may be subject to the weather conditions of the moment, or at work with a Unit ”.
Despite this, he emphasizes the importance of the Chilean Antarctic Territory for the Institution and the Defense Mission Areas of Chile.