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Iridium Pilot Aids Antarctic Rescue of Stranded American Scientists

Markets: Emergency, Polar

Sub-Markets: First Responders, Scientific Research

Partners: Tesacom

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At A Glance:

  1. The Challenge

    In 2018, five American scientists conducting research were stranded on a remote island near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

  2. The Solution

    Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs facilitated a remote rescue mission using a naval icebreaker with Iridium Pilot.

  3. The Impact

    With the help of Iridium’s communications network, the crew was able to save the lives of the five stranded Americans.

  1. 5lives saved

The Challenge

In March 2018, a group of five Americans conducting research for the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs found themselves stranded on Joinville Island near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The four scientists and one additional staff member were unable to return to their own ship, research vessel Laurence M. Gould, due to a wall of ice in the Weddell Sea blocking its path. In such a remote location, hundreds of miles from the tip of South America, the crew had no option but to call for help and wait to be rescued.

The Solution

The scientists contacted the U.S. Antarctic Program, which then reached out its Argentine counterpart. Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs facilitated a rescue mission remotely from offices in Buenos Aires by contacting the Argentine naval icebreaker Admirante Irízar, which had Iridium Pilot onboard. Officials in Buenos Aires called the crew on Irízar through Iridium Pilot to stay in touch with its captain until the rescue mission was complete.

The Impact

Captain Recio and his crew aboard Irízar saved the lives of the five stranded Americans, thanks to their reliable communication channels. A helicopter airlifted the team onto Irízar, where they remained until weather conditions allowed for their safe return to their own vessel. The international cooperation needed for this rescue mission was only possible because of connectivity through the Iridium® network: the omnidirectional satellite antenna in Iridium Pilot performs even in extreme weather conditions, and the Iridium constellation in Low-Earth Orbit provides coverage, even in the Antarctic region.

Whenever our customers are out at sea in the Antarctic region, they use Iridium because there’s no better communications solution for their needs.

–Viviana Fonseca,
Tesacom CEO

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