Argentina plans Antarctic logistics center in Ushuaia | Polarjournal
On the site of the Ushuaia Peninsula, the government of Argentina wants to build a new logistics center for Antarctica and also station the navy. (Image: Heiner Kubny)

Argentine President Alberto Fernández wants to push for the construction of an Antarctic logistics center in Ushuaia, with the idea of being closer to the white continent. The project consists of building an operations centre linked to all the scientific activities developed in Antarctica. This will complement all existing infrastructure and, according to the government’s plans, make Ushuaia a strategic location for the entire South Atlantic. It is expected that there could be disputes with the United States as it believes China would provide funding for the logistics center. Not only China, but also Russia has expressed interest in participating in such a strategic project. The total cost of this project is more than 300 million US dollars.

Construction machinery should soon be rolling up on the Ushuaia peninsula on the site of the old airport. A connection to the international airport is also planned to the south. (Graphic: Google/Heiner Kubny)

The ambitious investment will require planning in several stages, the first of which is the relocation of the Ushuaia naval base to a new site on the city’s peninsula, where the old airport was located.

In the first step, a pier is to be built that will provide sufficient space for docking submarines, freighters and supply ships, as well as the icebreaker “Almirante Irizar”.

The second phase is the construction of housing near the Antarctic Logistics Center to house the required personnel and stationed military.

Finally, stage three means the relocation of the Ushuaia naval base and its logistical requirements, as well as other facilities such as workshops for the repair of ships, covered storage areas, scientific laboratories for the various government agencies associated with activities in Antarctica. This includes a fuel depot and a hangar for parking and maintaining a Hercules C130 aircraft. The relocation of the naval base alone is estimated to cost $83.6 million.

However, a project as large as the move of the Argentine Antarctic Institute IAA to Ushuaia remains a challenge. “Moving an institute of this size is no easy task. Dozens of families of Antarctic researchers, technicians and administrative staff have long since settled in Buenos Aires. Most of them are not ready to move 3,000 kilometres south now,” explained Cafiero, head of the cabinet.

In the near future, the Argentine icebreaker “Almirante Irizar” should have a new home port in Ushuaia. (Photo: Argentine Navy)

Argentine lawmakers say the country attaches enormous geopolitical importance to the project, as it would give Argentina a supply base on Antarctica’s doorstep, especially since Chile has planned to develop a similar project in the port of Punta Arenas.

“As Argentina is far behind in all this, we need an active policy. Because Chile plays in a different league, they have managed tourism and logistics of Antarctica from Punta Arenas for years, in the most efficient way,” Carlos Gastón Roma, a former Argentine deputy and expert on strategy issues, admitted to the newspaper LA NACION to understand. “The Chilean experience is a model,” Roma admits, stressing the importance of having a logistics center.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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