RSV 421 Commander Danailov: Distance Sailed More or Less Equal to Equator's Circumference
A total of 19,076 nautical miles [35,329 km] were sailed during the expedition, as this is more or less equal to the circumference of the equator, which is about 40,000 km," said the Commanding Officer of the Bulgarian naval research vessel Sv. Sv. Kiril i Metodii (RSV 421), Commander Nikolai Danailov, who reported to President Rumen Radev, Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov, Education Minister Sasho Penov, Chief of Defence, Admiral Emil Eftimov, Flotilla Admiral Prof. Boyan Mednikarov, and Commander of the Bulgarian Navy, Rear Admiral Kiril Mihaylov, for the tasks performed by the ship on her return from the voyage to Antarctica. BTA was the only media on board during the Commander's report.
Among the tasks carried out was the transportation and loading of almost 40 tons of cargo on an unequipped coast - material and food supplies, he added. In addition, scientific research activities were conducted on board through the implementation of several scientific projects. "We were able to carry out various studies on the personnel regarding the impact of stress," Danailov pointed out, adding that staff members were taking a long-term experimental product to find out what its impact would be. It is yet to be studied what will be its impact on the human body, he explained.
The Bulgarian sailors ensured the conducting of scientific research on flora and fauna on board regarding the development of various microorganisms and parasites in the aquatic environment. "We were also able to carry out geomorphological sampling of the bottom of our Southern Gulf in order to establish its condition in depth," Danailov further noted.
Among the additional tasks that arose in the preparation of the expedition was the transportation of materials and food supplies in the interest of the Spanish polar program. They delivered nearly 70 tons of Spanish cargo to the two Spanish polar bases. One of the Spanish bases had only canned food left before the cargo was delivered, Danailov revealed.
An additional task has also arisen during the crossing of the Drake Passage - the transportation and rotation of personnel, scientific researchers, and polar scientists in the area of the South Shetland Islands and South America. This was prompted when a Spanish polar ship went out of action and the nearest one in the area, RSV 421, had to take over their additional transport tasks. "Several rotations were made between King George Island, Deception Island and Livingstone Island, whereby we were able to transport, in addition to the Spanish scientists, also Belgian, Polish, Canadian and German scientists who were at the Spanish polar bases," the RSV 421 Commander reported.
RSV 421 has also assisted polar scientists and researchers in the Byers Peninsula and Hannah Point area of Livingston Island. "I'm highlighting the Byers Peninsula as we only had to take one scientist from there. The interesting moment arose when we realized that Byers is a quite desolate place. When we went there, we ran into complicated hydrometeorological conditions, but I am glad that everything went more than fine and we managed to evacuate the scientist in question," Danailov stated. At Hannah Point, the Bulgarians had a similar case - they received a signal for help, to which they responded, and managed to evacuate 14 Spanish scientists.
During their stay on Livingston Island they have cleaned the Bulgarian coast of metal waste by compressing and transporting about 20 tons of cargo - various barrels, batteries and power generators. "For the last 30 years the Bulgarian coast have collected a lot of material means, which at one point turned out to be useless and had to be taken on board with the help of hydraulic presses," Danailov explained. This task was completed by the crew in order to allow the scientists to work on their projects in the meantime, he added.
Among the tasks of the Bulgarian naval research ship was to transport scientific samples from the scientific projects of the 31st expedition. "We have frozen samples on board that are to be studied further in the framework of the scientific projects. To my greatest regret, we made attempts to transport live fish, but they passed away somewhere near the Equator due to the high temperature," the Commander commented, adding that the next attempt will be more successful.
RSV 421 also transported cargo from the Spanish Antarctic base Gabriel de Castilla to the Cartagena Naval Base in Spain. "We had to repatriate their samples and additional cargo, which they decided to exhibit in their Spanish Antarctic museum, Danailov added. The crew has also assisted the Turkish Antarctic programme, with the ship also taking their cargo, which is yet to be released.
The navy has provided long-term and short-term training practice to cadets from the Naval Postgraduate School. "For more than 20 days, there were cadets on board from Varna to Cartagena, practicing their future duties as officers, while three cadets came with us for a long-term practice to Antarctica and back," Danailov pointed out. "It was a wonderful experience for these young men, as these boys suddenly became men before the eyes of the crew," he said.
The Commander reported that post-voyage servicing of material and restoration of various systems to full operational capability is required. These are minor ancillary systems on the ship that basically will not cause any major significant problems, Danailov noted. Regarding the personnel, he pointed out that the assigned tasks, as well as the additional ones, have been completed in full. According to him, a period of recovery of the personnel is necessary due to working in conditions south of the 55th parallel, where the risks to their life and health were quite high.
BTA's Daily News editor Konstantin Karagyozov was the only member of the media who travelled on board the ship to Livingston Island and back and covered the Bulgarian expedition on site throughout its stay in Antarctica. The information available in Bulgaria-Antarctica BTA's Log can be accessed for free.