Mission Antarctica expeditions was set up by Robert Swan after walking to both South & North Pole
Antarctica is an incredibly unique place, but not as white and pristine as you would first imagine, and Robert was amazed at the rubbish problem.
Antarctica is not owned by anyone, but 44 signatory countries administer the continent. The treaty was set up so that it could be looked after as a unique place for the future and states that everything brought in to the continent must be taken out.
In 1992 Robert was the keynote speaker at the first Earth Summit in Rio and spoke about the rubbish problem in Antarctica. He then set up a project to do something about it with Bellingshausen chosen, as it was one of the worse areas, but also was accessible to visiting ships and had a runway to be able to allow easy access for research into the removal.
For many years a Russian volunteer team cut, compacted and moved the scrap onto the beach for easy removal.
Dec/Jan 2001/2002 the Ship Anne Boye was chartered and after its normal job of re-supplying the Falklands, it sailed to King George island to remove the scrap.
A small team of 5 together with the Russian volunteers removed 1,000 tons of scrap in 3 weeks.
The site has now been levelled by JCB and within the week the penguins and seals are back on the beach.
The waste was then taken to Uruguay for recycling, with the Dangerous waste like Asbestos, taken to the UK for specialist disposal.
The Yacht 2041, so named as this is the next renewal date of the Antarctic Treaty, played an important role in the operation as the project was all about education and so Voyage 1 and 2 took young people and teachers from all the world to experience firsthand the mess together with the beauty.
The aim was that getting young people interested now would mean that in later years when they were older and in possible leadership roles they would remember this and act to look after the Continent.
Voyage 3 was for the sponsors and Robert to observe the cleanup operation firsthand.
Voyage 4 was for Young underprivileged South Africans, who had never even seen the sea before, let alone ice.
The final voyage returned the yacht from the Antarctic after first sailing deeper into the south observing how other bases are dealing with waste and exploring new territories.
The yacht was converted from the normal super strong Challenge Yachts by adding extra steel in the bow, some HUGE heaters, & easier handling systems for the sails.
She was ideal for the ice due to her strength & the steel was tested many times by buy big chunks of ice in the water.