In 1819, the Sailing Vessel San Telmo, commanded by Captain Joaquín de Toledo y Parra, was the flagship of a Spanish naval squadron under Brigadier Rosendo Porlier y Asteguieta bound for Callao (Peru) to reinforce colonial forces there fighting the independence movements in Spanish America. Damaged by severe weather in the Drake Passage, south of Cape Horn, it sank in September 1819.
The 644 officers, soldiers, and seamen lost on board the S/V San Telmo may have been the first people to die in Antarctica, as parts of her wreckage were found months later by the early sealers visiting Livingston Island. Indeed, if any of the crew of the San Telmo survived to set foot there, they would have been the first people in history to reach Antarctica.
San Telmo Island off the north coast of Livingston Island is named after the ship.
If someone is going to Cádiz (Spain) this summer, don’t forget to visit the exhibition that recalls the trip of the Sailing Vessel San Telmo, the first ship that could reach Antarctica, and its 644 crew missing members. The exhibition, organized by the Naval Museum of San Fernando is open to the public until next August 31.
The museum is owned by the Spanish Ministry of Defense, and is peripheral to the Naval Museum of Madrid.