Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The first Belgica
Originally built for whaling, the ship was purchased by Adrien de Gerlache for the Belgian Antarctic Expedition in 1896. He renamed the ship Belgica and left for Antarctica on 16 August 1897 from Antwerp, Belgium.
The ship and its crew became the first to spend winter on the Antarctic when it became stuck in the ice on 28 February 1897. Only 13 months later, after clearing a canal, did the crew manage to free the ship and return to Antwerp, Belgium on 5 November 1898.
The current Belgica is a research vessel owned by the Belgian government and operated on their behalf by the Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models (MUMM). The Belgian Royal Navy provides the crew. The homeport of the Belgica is Zeebrugge, Belgium. It is registered as A962.
The ship was commissioned in 1984 by Her Majesty Queen Fabiola. It measures 50.90 m(L) x 10.00 m (W) x 5.70 (H). Gross/net registered tonnage is 765t/232t.
Its main purpose is to monitor the North Sea marine environment by collecting all sorts of data on the biological, chemical, physical, geological and hydrodynamic processes which take place there. The ship operates as a fully equipped laboratory with Belgian university / scientific institute researchers analysing the collected materials.
The ship also has an important task in montiring the North Sea in case of a large oil spills. It feeds the data back to the MUMM, which will calculate the probable extent and impact of the spill on the environment.
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