Husvik – An Abandoned Whaling Station In The South Atlantic


Husvik is located in South Georgia, an island in the South Atlantic that is part of the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands. It served as a whaling station and is north of another abandoned settlement, Grytviken. It shares Stromness Bay with two other stations, Stromness and Leith Harbour.

South Georgia was discovered in 1675 by a London merchant, Anthony De La Roché and was first known as Roche Island. James Cook made the first landing on the island in 1775 and called it The Isle Of Georgia after King George III. It has long been associated with exploration given its proximity to Antarctica.

Whaling began on the island in the early 20th century and bases were operated under a lease from the Governor of the Falkland Islands. There were 7 whaling stations in total, all located along the northern coastline of which, Husvik was the second to open.

Husvik was originally built as an offshore floating factory in 1907 and became a permanent structure on the banks of Stromness Bay in 1910. It remained in operation, supporting whaling operations in the Southern Ocean until 1930 and then again from 1945 to 1960. It was linked to the other stations by a dirt track and social events took place in Leith Harbour however all three stations became abandoned over time.

In 1960, manufacturing in Husvik ended and moved to Grytviken and the buildings later came to be used by the British Antarctic Survey but apart from brief visits by research teams, it has largely remained abandoned. The island was invaded by Argentina during the Falklands War of 1982 but returned to British ownership soon after. The population of the entire South Georgia & The Sandwich Islands is 30, mainly individuals involved in the British Antarctic Survey. There are also staff members of the Grytviken Museum who are resident on the island on short-term rotations to service visiting Antarctic cruise ships.

The governor of the island has ruled Husvik closed to public access due to dangerous buildings and possible asbestos contamination. There is a 200m prohibited area maintained around certain areas. Some of the buildings were restored by Norwegian craftsmen in 2006 however they still lie within the prohibited zone. There are no plans to demolish the buildings and no plans to allow tourists within the 200m zone. The buildings of Husvik will likely remain as they are until nature reclaims them.

Location: Stromness Bay, South Georgia

Category: Whaling Station

Abandoned: 1960

The abandoned Husvik whaling station in South Georgia

The abandoned settlement of Husvik in South Georgia

Husvik in 1927

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