Almirante Brown Antarctic Base, or Brown Station, was an Argentine research centre located in Paradise Bay, Antarctica. It was opened on 6 April 1951. The base is located 1,100 km (680 mi) from Ushuaia, the nearest port city in Argentina.
The base was named after Almirante Brown, or Admiral William Brown, who has been called the father of the Argentine Navy. He had been born in County Mayo, Ireland in 1777 and emigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with his family when he was 9-years-old. He was employed as a cabin boy when a ship came to port soon thereafter and he worked his way up over the years to become captain of a merchant vessel. He was forced into the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars and escaped, making his way to France. He eventually married and set up as the captain of a merchant vessel in Montevideo, Uruguay. He opened the first regular sailing-packet service between Uruguay and Argentina.
Brown’s ship was destroyed by the Spanish during the Argentine War of Independence. He was asked by the new government to become the Commander-in-Chief of the Argentine fleet and with only 7 ships, beat the Spanish who relinquished control of the Río de la Plata. He later led the navy in wars against Brazil and Uruguay. He has been celebrated in both Argentina and Ireland since his death.
Argentina’s exploration of Antarctica began with José María Sobral who was the first Argentine to set foot on Antarctica in 1902 as part of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition. The Orcadas base was opened in 1904 with a total of 13 bases opening at various times since. Argentina claims a part of Antarctica as its territory however they signed up to the Antarctic Treaty in 1961 alongside Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the USSR, the United Kingdom and the United States. The treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishes freedom of scientific investigation, and bans military activity on the continent.
The Almirante Brown Antarctic Base began operations in April 1951 and operated continuously until 1984. Originally the Almirante Brown Naval Detachment, the Argentine Antarctic Institute took over in 1964, creating a biology research laboratory which they renamed Almirante Brown Research Station.
On 12 April 1984, the base was burned down by the station’s doctor who had been ordered to stay for the Winter. The staff were rescued by the USS Hero and taken to Palmer Station. Almirante Brown Antarctic Base was rebuilt but became a Summer only station. It was abandoned in the year 2000 but has been operated sporadically again in the Summer since 2007.
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