A photographer’s story by Anais Afrika Rekus
Navigating New Waters & the Launch of Magellan Explorer
A piece of A21 history written by Diana Galimberti, Antarctica21’s Senior Advisor
In 2023 Antarctica21 celebrates its 20th Anniversary. During our company’s 20th anniversary year, we want to celebrate our history with a review of the important milestones that have defined our journey. This is one of the notable moments in the company’s history. You can read more stories here.
Written by Diana Galimberti, Antarctica21’s Senior Advisor
2019 marked a significant milestone not just for the company but for my career at Antarctica21. It was an exciting and proud moment for everyone at the company to have been part of the construction and launch of Antarctica21’s custom-built ship – Magellan Explorer.
During this time, more than ever, I felt like I was really part of this group of visionaries from Punta Arenas paying homage to the great explorers like Shackleton and Amundsen before us. Their passion for exploration, coupled with their deep connection to the region, laid the foundation for remarkable journeys like the ones Antarctica21 offers. For this reason, the name Magellan Explorer was chosen, paying tribute to the renowned Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, whose historic voyage forever changed the world’s perception of the uncharted territories he visited.
A few years earlier, the dream began to take shape when a team of experts, engineers, and naval architects came together, fueled by the desire to create something extraordinary, and shared their operational expertise with the team. They knew that the ship had to be purpose-built for air-cruise operations, a unique approach that would allow the vessel to remain in Antarctica for extended periods.
Building an Antarctic ship was a challenging feat. The frozen wilderness demanded that every aspect of the ship’s design be carefully considered. Safety was paramount, and the ship’s hull was built to withstand the challenges posed by floating ice. It featured a double hull made of thick steel plates, a rounded bilge, and robust engines to push through icy obstacles. With state-of-the-art ice radar and adherence to the strict Polar Code regulations, the ship achieved a PC6 Class, allowing it to navigate safely through polar seas, even amid ice-covered waters.
Environmental consciousness was at the heart of the project. Antarctica, a sanctuary of awe-inspiring wilderness, deserves respect and conservation. A heat recovery system was implemented to minimize the ship’s impact on the delicate ecosystem. By repurposing the engines’ residual heat, the ship could operate with increased energy efficiency and reduce emissions, meeting the stringent Tier III emission standard.
As the ship took form, its agility, and maneuverability were vital. The team needed a vessel that could adapt swiftly to changing ice and climate conditions, offering unparalleled flexibility for wildlife exploration. Magellan Explorer’s design provided the answer. Equipped with bow and stern thrusters and two mid-ship gangways, the ship allowed for seamless operations with Zodiac boats. Embarkation and disembarkation were efficient, ensuring guests could experience Antarctica without delay.
A large expedition warehouse supported outdoor activities such as sea kayaking, hiking, and snowshoeing, enhancing the adventure for every traveler. This remarkable ship had become a testament to human ingenuity and resilience, embodying the passion for exploration that sparked its creation.
Finally, the day arrived when Magellan Explorer was ready to sail. The culmination of countless hours of dedication and collaboration stood as a symbol of the human spirit’s constant pursuit of discovery. As the ship set sail on its maiden voyage on November 28, 2019, awe and inspiration filled the air. We streamed the inauguration to our entire team, and I later heard that the team on Ocean Nova burst out in excitement, and smiles fondly ran across the faces of our team across the world.
The dream of having our own ship became a reality, thanks to the unwavering dedication and spirit of adventure that united the team. Magellan Explorer would now carry guests on a transformative journey, where the icy expanse of the White Continent would captivate their hearts and leave them forever changed.
The story of Magellan Explorer would be etched in Antarctica21’s history forever, reminding future generations that when human ingenuity, passion, and respect for nature converge, they can create unforgettable experiences and discover extraordinary journeys.