Helen Annan, Base Leader at Base ‘A’ raises the flag to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Operation Tabarin which started British presence at Port Lockroy, Antarctica on 11 February 1944.
In World War II the British Government was concerned about increased foreign activity in the Southern Ocean and as a result the Government established bases in Antarctica. But not all saw merit in the operation - Churchill when he learnt about it asked ‘What is the reason for sending an expedition of perfectly good fighting men to the South Pole?’.
Base ‘A’, as Port Lockroy was designated, would now be permanently manned (with the exception of three winters) becoming the first geophysics study base until 1962 when this scientific work was moved and expanded to a more modern site.
For over thirty years the buildings at Port Lockroy lay unoccupied until 1996 when the British Antarctic Survey restored them to their original 1962 condition. The British Antarctic Survey continues that legacy of research and pioneering exploration with cutting edge science in the Antarctic to this day. The United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) took over responsibility of Port Lockroy and the buildings in 2006.
Base ‘A’, at Port Lockroy is now open to visitors during the Antarctic summer. Base leader, Helen who ran a youth hostel in the Lake Distinct before going to Antarctica, is part of a four person team recruited each season by the UKAHT to work at Port Lockroy promoting the legacy of British scientists’ early work to visitors. The application process to work at Base ‘A’ is rigorous: selection is based on the individual’s practical skills and personal attributes as well as their ability to live in a harsh and remote environment with basic facilities. However just like the original members of Operation Tabarin they find the reward of living at Port Lockroy is the opportunity of a lifetime. You can apply now to work at Port Lockroy - see our jobs page
Today Port Lockroy is not only an important natural and historic site but also the number one Antarctic destination for visitors from all over the world. The same could not be said in 1944 when two small ships HMS William Scoresby and SS Fitzroy sailed into Port Lockroy on 11 February 1944.
The UKAHT opens Base ‘A’ every year giving visitors a glimpse into Operation Tabarin and early scientific work in Antarctica. This UK based trust also runs the post office at Port Lockroy on behalf of the Government of the British Antarctic Territory with around 70,000 post cards being sent each year.