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Antarctic Campaign

On 20 December 1989 the Antarctic Land Expedition established the “Gabriel de Castilla” Base (BAE GdC by its Spanish acronym), the setting for Spain’s Antarctic Campaign.

The Spanish campaign is based on Deception Island in the South Shetland Islands but also covers other Antarctic territories. It is inscribed within the context of Army support to the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the Spanish Polar Committee (CPE) in the development of Antarctic research.

The Spanish Army has been carrying out this task since 1988. The experience gained throughout that period led to the distribution of duties between the General Army Staff and the Operational Logistic Force. In effect, logistical support is crucial in this permanent collaboration of the Army with the Ministry of Education and Science (MEC) and the CPE.

The aims of our mission in Antarctica are:

- Maintaining a Spanish presence in the frozen continent according to the agreements signed by Spain within the framework of the Antarctic Treaty and its protocols, ensuring compliance with and respect for international legislation relating to the continent.

- Collaborating with MEC in the scientific investigation carried out at Deception Island and other Antarctic territories by providing support in the following areas:

  • Logistics: Foodstuffs, infrastructure, engines, healthcare.
  • Communications.
  • Environmental management, including monitoring the environmental impact of human activities such as tourism.
  • Trips in the area, by land or sea.
  • Security in emergency situations caused by orographic and/or weather conditions.

- Maintaining the BAE GdC facilities, materiel and equipment in good working condition so they can be used in research and experimentation tasks safely whilst minimising environmental impact.

- Developing research and experimentation projects of interest to the Spanish Army.

- Disseminating information about the presence and activities of the Spanish Army in Antarctica to the scientific community, the military and wider society.

The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, which includes representatives from 32 countries, received the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation in 2002. The award recognised the work of those engaged in scientific research in Antarctica, the last remaining virgin continent, free of political and economic tensions and devoted to science.

The “Gabriel de Castilla” base at Deception Island is a worthy representative of Spain in the distant continent as well as a symbol of our Armed Forces’ capability to carry out missions over long distances, in extreme weather conditions and in cooperation with different segments of society such as scientific researchers and universities from all over Spain.