BTA News

Bulgarian Naval Research Vessel Sv. Sv. Kiril i Metodii to Set Sail to Antarctica in Early November

The Bulgarian naval research vessel Sv. Sv. Kiril i Metodii (RSV 421) is expected to sail from Varna to Antarctica in early November to participate in the upcoming 32nd Bulgarian polar expedition, the head of the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute, Prof. Christo Pimpirev, told BTA. The ship is expected to reach Livingston Island after a 45-day voyage. Its first stop will be in Cartagena, Spain. That’s also where Hesperides, the flagship of Spain’s polar research programme, will also be anchored, he added.

“After that, the Bulgarian ship will cross the Atlantic without stopping for about twenty days, and then perhaps stop at Brazil’s southernmost port, Rio Grande do Sul. It will then necessarily stop in Mar del Plata and again we will have the Argentinean support in crossing the Drake Passage [by providing a] navigator, because those are the most turbulent waters on Earth. Our vessel is expected to reach the St. Kliment Ohridski Bulgarian base on Livingston Island, but before the Drake Passage [it] will stop in Ushuaia, which is the southernmost port of Argentina – Tierra del Fuego. There, the ship will be boarded by our builders and scientists, as well as by the logistics team of the Bulgarian Antarctic expedition. They will arrive by plane in Ushuaia,” Prof. Pimpirev explained.

He said that the Bulgarian polar base on Livingston Island is expected to open for the new scientific season in mid-December. The construction of the new laboratory unit will also continue. “The Bulgarian polar expedition will continue until the end of March 2024, our ship will sail in mid-February from Livingston to Bulgaria, but the builders will stay to finish their work,” the head of the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute explained.

RSV 421’s first voyage to Antarctica started on December 27, 2022, and ended on May 2, 2023, as part of the 31st Bulgarian polar expedition. 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, covering the expedition on site throughout the stay in Antarctica. All media outlets could use the Bulgaria-Antarctica BTA’s Log for free.

During the 32nd Bulgarian expedition to Antarctica, the vessel will transport all the materials for the new laboratory unit – its metal structure and panels, because now the building must be erected. In early 2023, the foundations of the laboratory were completed, and within the current expedition, the rough construction of the building should be completed as well, with only finishing works inside to remain, Prof. Pimpirev added.

Scientific Projects within the 32nd Bulgarian polar expedition

Тhe 32nd Bulgarian Antarctic Expedition will include many scientific projects. It will be focused on projects related to global climate change, Pimpirev said. There will also be geological projects, but not only on Livingston Island, but also on the neighbouring, almost inaccessible Antarctic island of Smith. Smith Island is the highest island in the whole of the South Shetland archipelago – it is 3,000 metres high. For this reason, two of our most famous Bulgarian mountaineers – Kiril Doskov and Doichin Boyanov will join the expedition to help the geologists who will explore hard-to-reach rocks, Pimpirev also noted.

Pimpirev spoke to BTA ahead of the premiere of a documentary about him, Da badesh Hristo Pimpirev [Being Hristo Pimpirev], in Sofia on Wednesday evening. Produced by the Bulgarian National Television, the film seeks to answer the question about what drives a scientist and a discoverer to pursue his dreams.

Prof. Christo Pimpirev teaches geology at the St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia. He is also a polar researcher, founder of the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute and head of the National Centre for Polar Studies. He has headed 31 Bulgarian polar expeditions and has authored ten books, eight documentaries and over 250 scientific articles.