Saint Christopher, a tugboat stranded 64 years ago off the coast of Ushuaia that became a classic postcard of the city of the End of the World, will be transformed into a natural reserve where birds of the Beagle Channel can nest, a decision they made local authorities after launching a rescue plan for the risk of sinking.
Due to the advanced state of deterioration of the vessel, which in the 1950s was used to refloat the ship Monte Cervantes, a German cruiser that sank in front of the Les Eclaireurs lighthouse, near Ushuaia, authorities, social organizations and business chambers set in motion the plan that will be carried out in different stages.
One of the first measures consisted of a tour of the interior of the ship, which remains stranded about 30 meters from the coast, with its wooden hull resting on the seabed and tilted about 15 degrees to starboard.
The work in charge of officials of the Provincial Department of Sanitary Works (DPOSS) and the Museum of the End of the World, included a complete photographic survey and served to verify, together with the advanced deterioration of the ship, the interrelation between the old tugboat and the birds that they live or visit the Beagle Channel at regular intervals.
“Over the years, the birds appropriated this boat, in some cases they nest directly and in others they are migratory, to which must be added the tourist component, because hundreds of people can be seen every day contemplating or photographing these animals” , said the provincial director of Museums and Cultural Heritage, Carina Quattrocchi.
The official said that some species, such as the South American terns, arrive in the area in September of each year and use Saint Christopher as a refuge, while other birds such as the biguá use the ship’s tension ropes to spread and dry their black wings.
“There are also other species, such as witches herons, reefers, cook gulls, petrels and steam ducks that took the boat as a natural environment to nest in. It is notorious as something inanimate was transformed into a place full of life,” remarked Quattrocchi.
The director of museums fueguina also highlighted the scenic value of the boat, since “the image of Ushuaia with Saint Christopher is an almost indissoluble postcard that identifies us as a destination”.
The route travelled by ship served to verify how the wood with which the hull is built is split or discarded, while much of the surface exposed to the weather is covered with grass and moss.
In the interior, the metallic pieces look corroded and those of steel, like some floors and ceilings, the main mast and the chimney, remain firm, keeping the main imprint of the ship.
There are still remnants of old wiring in the corridors, and in the machine room, there is a large pool where the sea water coexists with traces of fuel.
“This visit allows us to size the work that needs to be done, and at first glance, there is a huge crack in the upper part of the hull, while the navigation on both sides showed that the entire surface in contact with the water is practically destroyed,” he said. the president of the DPOSS, Guillermo Worman.
Instead, he assessed that other areas of the roof and several interior spaces “remain in very good condition as if the time had not passed.”
Saint Christopher is a tugboat that in the 50s was used to refloat another ship, Mount Cervantes, a German cruiser that sank in front of the Les Eclaireurs lighthouse, near Ushuaia.
The ship suffered problems in the engine and the rudder, and as the owner company went bankrupt, was left on the shore of the Beagle Channel, in the heart of the capital fueguina, where little by little was becoming one more element of the landscape.
Built in Boston, United States, in 1943, historians assure him participation in the Second World War and a version, not confirmed, points to it as part of the Normandy landings, in the so-called “D-Day”.
Source: La Nacion