Bellingshausen Station

King George Island

Russia set up Bellingshausen station in 1968 and it is now separated from Frei base by a small stream. After a fuel-tank farm was established, Bellingshausen became a major fuel depot for the Soviet Antarctic fishing fleet. The station underwent a remarkable cleanup in 2002, with more than 1350 tonnes of scrap metal and other waste cleared from the beach in front of the station and removed to Uruguay and the UK. Every season since then, small additional amounts of waste have been removed.

Bellingshausen has a maximum capacity of 40 and a winter population of 13. The station consists of 15 one-story buildings built on stilts and painted silver and red. The banya (sauna), showers and washing machines are located in the power station, where warm water is produced using the waste heat from the generators.

On the hills north of Bellingshausen is Holy Trinity, the first Orthodox church in Antarctica, preassembled of cedar and larch in Siberia and sanctified in February 2004. The 15m-tall church, complete with three small onion domes, a church bell and a handsome interior with hand-painted icons, holds 30 worshippers. They are led in weekly services by the church’s priest and his assistant, both Bellingshausen residents. Many visitors enjoy the unusual Antarctic experience of smelling natural wood and frankincense. Holy Trinity’s first wedding took place in February 2007 between a Chilean member of Frei station and the daughter of a Russian mechanic at Bellingshausen.