Originally built as a sealer and named "Patria"
Screw steamer / 1 funnel, 3 masts / L,B,D
188' x 25' x 13.4' - 36m x 7.6m x 4.1m / 336 tons / Hull: wooden /
Compliment: 20 / Engine: 30 nhp / Built K. Jacobsen, Selvig, Norway 1884.
The Belgica anchored at Mount William.
In: "Resultats du Voyage du S. Y. BELGICA en 1897-1898-1899 ....
Rapports Scientifiques ... Travaux Hydrographiques et Instructions
Nautiques" by G. Lecointe, 1903. P. 110. Plate XI.
Fate after the expedition
Acquired by N.C. Halvorsen in 1902 and then
by the Duc d'Orleans. Used for research in the Kara and Greenland Seas in
1905, remained in service until 1913
The crew of the
A ship called the Patria was obtained and
re-named Belgica for the Belgian Antarctic Expedition led by
Commandant Adrien de Gerlache de Gomery of the Belgian Navy. The main aim of the expedition was to find
the position of the South Magnetic Pole. The expedition was intended
to be summer only, returning before the Antarctic winter began.
The Belgica left
Antwerp on August 16th 1897. She was so overloaded that she could make no
more than 6 knots under steam and her decks were barely 2 feet clear of
She crossed the Antarctic Circle on the 15th
of Feb 1898 off Palmer Land on the Antarctic Peninsula. The men of the Belgica
made the first ever land excursions into Antarctica, spending a week ashore
in an attempt to travel inland.
De Gerlache later ventured further south in
an attempt to beat the furthest south record held by James Ross 57 years
earlier in 1841 at 78° 11' S, but it was too late in the season to be so
southerly and by the 3rd of
March 1898 the Belgica was trapped in the sea ice in the
Bellingshausen Sea by Alexander Island, 71o 30' S 85o15'
Thus albeit involuntarily, the crew were
the first ships party to over winter
in Antarctica. The unprepared crew had a very difficult time of things, de
Gerlache and his captain both succumbed to scurvy with many other of the
The Norwegian first mate Roald Amundsen
(later to be the leader of the first team to reach the South Pole) and
American surgeon Frederick Cook (later to be the first man to reach the
North Pole) rallied the crew and enforced a diet of
fresh seal meat.
After more than a year trapped in the ice,
the crew again supervised by Amundsen and Cook, sawed a channel through the ice
over a period of weeks to free the ship which could then return