Lighthouses of Antarctica

The continent of Antarctica has no permanent population, but it has nearly 70 scientific stations, many of them staffed year round. A few of these stations are visited fairly regularly by adventure cruise ships. The more accessible stations are all located in the region south of Cape Horn (Chile), where the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands extend well to the north into waters that can be navigated safely during the summer. This region is claimed by Argentina, Chile, and the United Kingdom. Under the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 these claims are suspended indefinitely, and all lands south of latitude 60°S are set aside as a scientific and wildlife reserve.

In the Lighthouse Directory, navigational beacons are considered to be lighthouses if they have a height of at least 4 meters and a footprint of at least 4 square meters. By this standard, Antarctica has no lighthouses. However, this page lists a number of taller beacons that approach lighthouse status. Several of these lights have been described as "the world's southernmost lighthouse." For the record, the southernmost navigational light listed by NGA is a small beacon at the Argentine station of San Martín, near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula at 68°11.8'S. This is considerably farther south than the lights listed here.

There may well be other lights in the Antarctic that should be listed here; photos would be welcome.

Lights in the Antarctic probably operate only when ships are expected.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume G of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publications 110 and 111.

General Sources
Online List of Lights - Band G
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas; includes pages for the South Shetland Islands and for Antarctica.
Lighthouses in Antarctica
Photos available from Wikimedia.

Potter's Bay Light
Jubany (Potter's Bay) Light, February 2005
anonymous Creative Commons photo
(no longer online)

South Orkney Islands Lighthouse
Note: The South Orkney Islands are located in the sub-Antarctic about 600 km (375 mi) northeast of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The islands are claimed by Argentina and Britain, but they lie within the region where all claims are suspended by the Antarctic Treaty. Argentina established a base on Laurie Island in 1904 and has maintained it year round ever since. The British base on Signy Island was established in 1947 and is currently staffed only during the Antarctic summer.
Destacamento
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 3 s. Light mounted on a communications tower. Probably the light is on the tower seen left of center in a photo (1/3 the way down the page) of the Argentine base, but Bing's satellite view does not show the base. Located at Argentina's Orcadas Base on Laurie Island, at the southeastern end of the islands. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty G1378.5; NGA 110-20363.2.
Signy Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 24.5 m (80 ft); continuous white light. 12 m (39 ft) skeletal tower. The tower is near the top of a photo of the British base, but it is not seen in Bing's satellite view. Located on the east side of Signy Island, southernmost of the South Orkneys. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty G1375; NGA 110-20362.

South Shetland Islands Lighthouses
Note: King George Island is the largest of the South Shetland Islands, lying about 120 km (75 mi) north of the Antarctic Peninsula. The island is 95 km (59 mi) long and 25 km (16 mi) wide. Wikipedia has a map showing the location of 9 scientific stations, established by 8 different countries; all are on the more-protected southwestern side of the island.
Martel Inlet (Comandante Ferraz) (2)
2007 (station established 1984). Active; focal plane about 20 m (66 ft); red light, 1 s on, 1 s off. Approx. 8 m (26 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted red. A view of the station shows the light in the left distance, and the light is in the far left in another view. Located at Brazil's Comandante Ferraz Station, at the north end of Admiralty Bay, a large embayment on the south side of King George Island. The station is staffed year round. Site manager: PROANTAR. Admiralty G1387.5; NGA 111-2729.
Arctowski (King George Island, Point Thomas)
Date unknown (scientific station established 1977). Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); white light, 3 s on, 6 s off. 11 m (36 ft) round cylindrical tower with a small lantern and gallery. The upper half of the light is painted white and the lower half red (the color pattern of the Polish flag). Brian Sullivan's 2010 photo is at right. The lighthouse was originally painted with red and white horizontal bands, as seen in Douglas Cameron's photo posted by Trabas, but it appeared all white in Ted Smith's 2007 photos. A 2010 photo and a 2008 photo are available, and Wikimedia has several photos. This lighthouse guides vessels to Poland's Henryk Arctowski station, located on the west side of Admiralty Bay. The station is staffed year round. This is one of the stations most frequently visited by Antarctic adventure cruises. Site and tower closed. Site manager: Polish Academy of Sciences. Admiralty G1387.4; NGA 111-2728.
Jubany (Potter's Bay)
Date unknown (scientific station established 1982). Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); white flash every 10 s. 9 m (30 ft) round hourglass-shaped tower, painted with red and yellow horizontal bands. A photo appears at the top of this page; Google has a satellite view that probably shows the light. Jubany Base is an Argentine station located on Isla 25 de Mayo, an island off the entrance to Potter's Bay on the southwestern coast of King George Island. (The station buildings appear in the right background of the photo.) The station is staffed year round. Site status unknown. Site manager: Argentine Navy. Admiralty G1387.7; NGA 111-2725.
Tiniente Camara (Tres Hermanos)
Date unknown (scientific station established 1982). Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); white flash every 10 s. 9 m (30 ft) round barbell-shaped tower, painted with black and yellow horizontal bands. A distant view is available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located on an island about 1 km (0.6 mi) west of the Potter's Bay light (previous entry). Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Site manager: Argentine Navy. Admiralty G1387.6; NGA 111-2724.

Arctowski Light
Arctowski Light, December 2010
photo copyright Brian Sullivan; used by permission

Jasper Point (Suffield Point, Base Artigas)
Date unknown (scientific station established 1984). Active; focal plane 52 m (171 ft); white flash every 5 s. 5 m (17 ft) round aluminum tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands. The light is visible in the upper left corner of a view of the base, and Google has a satellite view. The light guides vessels arriving at Uruguay's Base Artigas, near the southwestern tip of King George Island. Located on a promontory about 800 m (1/2 mi) south of the base. Site status unknown. Site manager: Instituto Antárctico Uruguayo. Admiralty G1387.8; NGA 111-2722.
[Ardley Cove]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 5 m (17 ft); white flash every 5 s. 3 m (10 ft) post light with side panels, painted white with a red horizontal band. A photo is available, Alistair Knock has a view from the sea, and Google has a satellite view. This small beacon is on the shoreline at the Chilean Eduardo Frei Montalva Station, a short distance south of Uruguay's Base Artigas. Admiralty G1387.9; NGA 2721.
Ardley Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 45 m (148 ft); white flash every 10 s. 6 m (20 ft) round tower on a conical base, painted with orange and white horizontal bands. The light appears at the top left of a photo of penguins on the beach, and Google has a satellite view. Ardley Island, known for its large penguin rookery, is about 2.5 km (1.5 mi) long and lies perpendicular to the southwestern peninsula of King George Island. Located at the eastern end of the island. Site status unknown. Site manager: unknown; this light is probably maintained by Chile. Admiralty G1388; NGA 111-2720.

Antarctic Peninsula Lighthouses
Port Lockroy
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 14 m (46 ft) square skeletal tower. A photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Port Lockroy is a former 19th century whaling station and also the site of a British scientific station staffed between 1944 and 1962. It is now operated as a historic site and is a popular stop for adventure cruise ships. Located on the northwest side of Wiencke Island, the southernmost island of the Palmer Archipelago of the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Site open, tower closed.
Esperanza (Grunden Rock, Hope Bay)
Date unknown (scientific station established 1975). Active; focal plane 26 m (85 ft); white flash every 2 s. 6 m (20 ft) round cylindrical tower, painted with red and black horizontal bands. One of Ted Smith's photos is at right, Trabas has Douglas Cameron's photo, and Google has a satellite view. The light guides ships arriving at Esperanza Base, a major Argentina station located at Hope Bay at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The station is staffed year round and includes several families. Located on an islet about 1.1 km (0.7 mi) east of the base. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Site manager: Argentine Navy. ARLHS ANC-002; Admiralty G1389; NGA 111-2756.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Grunden Rock Lighthouse
Esperanza (Grunden Rock) Light, 2007
photo copyright Ted Smith; used by permission

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining page: North: Southern Chile

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Posted December 14, 2007. Checked and revised May 30, 2014. Lighthouses: 10. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.