‘Belgica’: whaler and research ship

In this short video, Thomas talks about his favourite shipwreck: Belgica.

Image of Belgica on an Antarctic expedition 1897-1899
“Belgica schiff” by Frederick Cook – http://www.tierradelfuego.org.ar/belgica/barco.htm. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Belgica_schiff.jpg#/media/File:Belgica_schiff.jpg


The Belgica,  built as the whaler Patria in 1884 in Svelvik, Norway, became Belgium’s most illustrious research vessel after it was bought and refitted by Adrien de Gerlache.

The ship and its crew were the first to spend the winter on the ice of Antartica when the ship got stuck on the 28th of February in 1898. Only 13 months later, the crew managed to dig a canal to free the ship from the ice. The Belgica arrived safely in Antwerp on the 5th of November 1899.


Hi! I’m Thomas Dhoop and my favourite wreck has to be the Belgica. She was a Belgian research vessel.

She was built in 1883 in Norway as a whaling ship, but she was bought by Adrien de Gerlache to go on an Antarctic expedition. She left Antwerp in 1898 and successfully reached the Arctic. At the Arctic, the mission was very successful. They discovered several new biological species, discovered several new islands which they named… but she got, at a certain point, stuck in the ice and it took them 13 months to dig a canal to get them back free of the ice and so she became the first ship to spend the winter on the Antarctic. After this she was bought by the Count of Orleans and she went on several more expeditions.

During the First World War she was used as a floating fish factory and during the Second World War she was used as a floating munition depot for the British in Harstad in Norway. And this is where she met her end. She was sank by a German air attack and now she is one of the most beautiful diving spots in Norway.

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