ARA Almirante Irízar
|Ordered:||17 December 1975|
|Builder:||Wärtsilä Helsinki Shipyard, Finland|
|Laid down:||4 July 1977|
|Launched:||3 February 1978|
|Completed:||15 December 1978|
|In service:||1979–2007; 2017–present|
|Status:||Undergoing sea trials after refit|
|General characteristics (as built)|
|Length:||121.3 m (398 ft)|
|Beam:||25.2 m (83 ft)|
|Draft:||9.5 m (31 ft)|
|Installed power:||4 × Wärtsilä-Pielstick 8PC2-5L (4 × 3,828 kW)|
|Sensors and |
|Plessey AWS-2 radar|
|Aviation facilities:||Helipad and hangar|
|General characteristics (changes in refit)|
|Installed power:||4 × MAN 9L32/40 (4 × 4,500 kW)|
A fire broke out in the auxiliary generator compartment in 2007, putting it out of commission until April 2017.
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The ship was named after Julián Irízar. In 1903, when he held the rank of Lieutenant, he commanded the Argentine corvette during a successful mission to rescue the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of Professor Otto Nordenskjöld, after the expedition had been trapped by the Antarctic winter.
The vessel was built at the Wärtsilä Helsinki Shipyard in Finland, under a contract signed in 1975 between the Argentine Navy and the shipyard. Irízar was launched in February 1978 and was formally commissioned on December that year, arriving in Argentina on 23 March 1979. She replaced the elderly icebreaker ARA General San Martín, which was then retired from active service.
Almirante Irízar's peacetime missions include annual campaigns to resupply and rotate the personnel assigned to the Argentine Antarctic outposts, as well as conducting and supporting scientific endeavors in Antarctica. She has also conducted several passenger tours to Patagonia and the Antarctic.
During the Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de Malvinas) the vessel served as a troop transport and then as a hospital ship, a role for which her crew included medical personnel from the Argentine Army in addition to the naval medical staff.
In April 1982, while operating north of the Falklands, the boilers of tanker ARA Punta Médanos failed and she lost all propulsion; Almirante Irízar towed her back to Puerto Madryn (about 330 miles west) in rough weather, the trip took about 60 hours. Punta Médanos couldn’t be repaired, and was unable to continue operations during the war.
After the end of the war, she was used to return injured Argentine personnel back to the mainland.
The ship gained attention in 2002, when she attempted to rescue the supply vessel Magdalena Oldendorff, which was trapped in pack ice off Antarctica. Even though Irízar failed to break Magdalena Oldendorff free, she managed to move it to a safer position and resupply the ship with food, medicine and medical personnel until the ice melted and Magdalena Oldendorff could return to open sea.
On 15/16 March 2004, the ship entered a maritime area designated as conservation zones under the jurisdiction of the Falkland Islands and issued demands for other ships to identify themselves. This prompted a protest from the British government to the Argentine government over its policing of seas under Falkland jurisdiction. The diplomatic note also re-asserted British sovereignty over the islands.
On 10 April 2007 at 22:00 UTC−03:00, a massive fire broke out in the auxiliary generator compartment. By midnight, captain Guillermo Tarapow had ordered the evacuation. Argentine Navy and Argentine Coast Guard aircraft, including P-3 Orion and Hercules C-130 aircraft, operated to keep track of the 24 lifeboats. The 296 persons aboard the icebreaker —including civilians of the Antarctic bases— were helped by the nearest ships, the Panamanian tanker Scarlet Ibis and a Uruguayan fishing vessel. The icebreaker was returning from its annual Antarctic summer campaign, and the incident took place some 140 miles (230 km) east of Puerto Madryn.
The crew arrived safely in Puerto Madryn on 12 April. There were no casualties.
The vessel's captain remained aboard alone for almost 24 hours after seeing his crew safely evacuated from the ship. Starting 11 April, destroyer ARA Almirante Brown, corvettes ARA Granville, and ARA Robinson, avisos ARA Gurruchaga, ARA Suboficial Castillo, and ARA Teniente Olivieri, and Coast Guard PNA Thompson, surrounded the icebreaker and began rescue operations. Buzos Tacticos and members of the Rescue Team (Spanish: Servicio de Salvamento) of the Argentine Navy boarded the ship and extinguished the fire. On 18 April, the ship started being towed to the Puerto Belgrano naval base. Irizar finally arrived to Puerto Belgrano on 20 April.
The fire caused the loss of the two Sea King helicopters stored in their hangar, worth US$18 million each. These have been replaced by four Sea Kings transferred from the US government.
Following this incident the British government offered to supply Argentine bases in Antarctica in support of scientific missions, using HMS Endurance. This offer was turned down by the Argentine government, instead they leased the Russian icebreaking vessel Vasily Golovnin for the subsequent Antarctic summer campaigns at a cost of US$2m/month. The Dutch cargo vessel Timca was hired for the 2012/13 campaign. Vasily Golovnin would again carry out the following Antarctic campaign.
After a long period in Puerto Belgrano due to legal issues surrounding the incident, Irízar finally arrived in Buenos Aires on 3 September 2008 to be taken to Tandanor's shipyard for repairs. Repairs were expected to be completed in 2010 but continued into 2011, and were supervised by Norwegian shipyard Aker Yards. As of November 2012[update], the refit had thus far cost over US$100 million and the ship was not expected to be ready until late 2013. In April 2013 , it was disclosed that the ship was still awaiting the necessary repairs and that sea trials had been delayed by a year, with oppositors claiming the money spent —some US$200 million plus another US$75 million in contracting supplying vessels— could have been used to buy a new ship; a month later, it was announced that work regarding control panels was still pending.
The Tandanor shipyard repaired the fire damage and also reconfigured the vessel to increase laboratory space from 74 m2 (800 sq ft) up to 415 square metres (4,470 sq ft). This allow the ship to be used primarily as a research vessel in addition to its role of resupplying the southernmost Antarctic base Belgrano II. The diesel engines have been replaced by four new ones purchased from MAN in October 2011. The main radar of Irízar was also repaired in Argentina by CITEDEF. Work was initially estimated to be finished by November 2011, but it was not until April 2017 that the icebreaker was declared seaworthy again.
On 4 July, Almirante Irízar sailed for open sea trials for the first time in ten years. After departing Buenos Aires, the vessel headed to a dry dock in the main base of Argentine Navy, Puerto Belgrano, where the icebreaker will undergo tests and verifications prior to ice trials in the Antarctic and return to full service.
On November 2017, the ship came back to Buenos Aires after successfully passing its "ice test", the last stage of its restoration work that left it ready for service again. It was confirmed that it will be present on the Antarctic 2018 campaign
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The Argentinian ice breaker Almirante Irizar is expected to be in the area on Thursday, and the officials said they were confident it would be able to break the ice and free the vessel.
- "Scientists rescued from Antarctic ship". BBC News. 2 July 2002. Archived from the original on 7 May 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
Essential crew members, living on supplies brought by the helicopters, will remain on board the Magdalena until the arrival of the Argentine icebreaker Almirante Irizar.
- "Icebreaker joins Antarctic rescue". BBC News. 25 June 2002. Archived from the original on 7 May 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
The Almirante Irizar will join a South African ship on the mission to rescue the Magdalena Oldendorff, a German vessel chartered by Russia, which has been frozen in a bay on the Princess Astrid Coast since 11 June.
- "Antarctic rescue mission begins". BBC News. 16 June 2002. Archived from the original on 7 May 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
The rescue ship has a Russian expert specialising on polar navigation – known as an "ice-pilot" – and will be aided by an Argentine ice-breaker, the Almirante Irizar, which is set to depart from Buenos Aires soon.
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- De Vedia, Mariano (10 January 2014). "Llega un buque ruso para la nueva campaña a la Antártida" [Russian ship arrives for the new Antarctic campaign]. La Nación (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 22 June 2014.
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- "Argentina's Antarctica flagship 'Almirante Irizar' remains 'grounded' in controversy". MercoPress. 12 April 2013. Archived from the original on 22 June 2014.
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- "After nine years "Almirante Irizar" is ready for sea tests but faces a "muddy" problem". MercoPress. 11 August 2016. Archived from the original on 23 December 2016.
- Niebieskikwiat, Natasha (28 May 2014). "El Gobierno apura el arreglo del "Almirante Irízar"" [The government hurries with the repairs on the "Almirante Irizar"]. Clarín (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 30 May 2014.
- "Continúa incendiándose el rompehielos Irízar" [The icebreaker Irízar is still on fire]. Perfil (in Spanish). 12 April 2007. Archived from the original on 22 June 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to:|
- (in English) Unofficial website for A.R.A. Almirante Irízar