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24 January, 2002


Today we had a visit from the Armada Republica Argentina (ARA) Castillo. This ship was built in 1943 for the U.S. Navy, and its name was the U.S. Takelma, an ATF 113. The Takelma served in the U.S. Navy in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. It was a part of the auxiliary tug fleet until it was de-commissioned in 1972.

In 1994, the ship was purchased from the U.S. government by Argentina. It was commissioned in 1995 as Argentina's ARA Castillo. It has been upgraded with many sophisticated communications instruments. Its home port is Mar del Plata, Argentina. The Castillo is 62 meters long and it has a crew of 60. Seven members of the crew came to Palmer Station while the ship was anchored in Arthur Harbor.

The ARA Castillo is a part of the Antarctic Patrol. Argentina and Chile work together as this patrol, known as Patrulla Antarctica Naval Combinada. Ships in this patrol come to Antarctic waters from November to March every year.

The mission of the patrol is to help preserve the ecosystem here. They work to prevent oil spills from cruise ships and to help any ships in distress. They have four navy divers onboard the ship. These divers can use skimmers and sea barriers in case any vessel has an oil leak or other damage. For example, if a cruise ship comes into contact with a large iceberg, these divers can go underwater to assess any damage to the ship and then help in the necessary clean up!

The visitors from ARA Castillo are (left to right) Sebastian Viora, Supply Officer; Juan-Ignacio Squillacci, diver; Guillermo Simoncini, Commanding Officer; Gaston Kirby, Deck Officer; Gustavo Balmaceda, diver; Emilio Martinez, Communications/Radio Operator; Luis Diaz, Chief.

The flags are flying for the visit from one of Argentina's naval vessels.

Commanding Officer LtCdr. Simoncini does his dishes after lunch. This is the system that we all use here at Palmer Station. We wash our own dishes, and then we put the dishes into racks. Each rack of clean dishes later goes through a sterilizer.

The ARA Castillo coming in to Arthur Harbor.

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