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Bulgarian science with important asset – the Saints Cyril and Methodius research ship

Photo: Facebook /@BulgarianAntarcticInstitute

The idea that Bulgaria should have a research ship to sail the world ocean, and most of all Antarctica, goes back a long way, to 30-40 years ago. Thanks to the efforts of the Bulgarian researchers in Antarctica, the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute, and most of all the Naval Academy in Varna and its Rector Admiral Boyan Mednikarov, a suitable ship was found and has been purchased with public funds. It is a Swedish vessel, left, abandoned and forgotten in port Varna for five years. The story of the research ship built 38 years ago is a curious one, but what matters most to the Bulgarian researchers is that it is adapted for research work so that it can set sail for Bulgaria’s Polar base in Antarctica in the spring of next year.

The ship is 67 metres long with double cabins. It has a capacity of 40 people - scientific staff plus a crew of 20, and is capable of sailing in the world ocean. The vessel was purchased after a series of meetings with the ship owner, and a price was negotiated – 600,000 euro. “That is the cost of a high-end apartment in Bulgaria,” says Prof. Hristo Pimpirev, director of the Bulgarian Antarctic institute and leader of Bulgaria’s national Antarctic expeditions:

Prof. Hristo Pimpirev

“This ship came to Bulgaria for the needs of the South Stream project and was adapted for scientific research – to probe where and how the pipes of the future gas pipeline should be laid. But as we know the project was halted and the ship was left at port Varna for five years, while we needed it, at least until the time Bulgaria acquires a new research vessel. After all, it is better to have something than to have nothing. Built in 1984 at a shipyard in Norway out of Swedish steel, it has an exceptionally sturdy hull, well suited for sailing in the North Sea, in waters with icebergs. It is also adapted for distant sailing, and for sailing to the South, where the Bulgarian Polar base is. This is a big step forward for Bulgaria because it will put us on the map of maritime countries where we are non-existent because we do not conduct any ocean research.”

The Bulgarian polar base on Livingston Island

The name of the ship, which is to cross the seas under a Bulgarian flag, was chosen very carefully. “There is no other ship in the world named after the brothers Cyril and Methodius, the men who gave all Slavic nations, and us Bulgarians, an alphabet,” Prof Pimpirev explains and goes on:

“In 1911 in Varna a foundation was set up to raise money for building such a ship to be called “Saints Cyril and Methodius”. That is why, among other things, we fulfilled the dream of the people who came before us, a dream that goes back 100 years. Now Bulgaria will have such a ship.”

Gergana Mancheva

Photos: Facebook / @ BulgarianAntarcticInstitute

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