The station was established on 22 February 1968 during the 13th Soviet Antarctic Expedition led by Alexey Tryoshnikov. It is situated on the coast of Ardley Cove near the sub-Antarctic island of Waterloo (also known as King George Island and Isla 25 de Mayo).
Interestingly enough, the island where the station is located was named three separate times. In 1821, during the first Russian Antarctic Expedition led by Bellingshausen and Lazarev, the island received the name of Waterloo in honour of the 1815 battle that took place near a small settlement wherein French emperor Napoleon I had his last major battle. Later, the island was discovered by the British sailor Edward Bransfield and was named King George Island after George III, King of Great Britain and of Ireland. A year later, Argentine explorers came upon the island and named it Isla 25 de Mayo to commemorate the May Revolution. This is why the island can be found with three different names on different maps.
Bellingshausen Station houses the first foreign station of the augmentation and monitoring system that was built in order to improve the precision and reliability of the GLONASS navigation system, which makes it possible to adjust the orbits of satellites.
Today, nine countries from across the world have stations operating in the area of Bellingshausen Station; during the summer, tourist ships regularly stop by the island to conduct tours.
In 2020, in honour of the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica, a monument to Fabian von Bellingshausen was unveiled at the station. The monument was gifted to the station by the international public organisation Bering-Bellingshausen Institute. The statue was designed by the Moscow-based sculptor Alexey Leonov. Its plinth was made by the employees of Bellingshausen Station from the 64th Russian Antarctic Expedition.
“The research conducted by scientists at Bellingshausen Station is crucial to Russian science. Over the past 20 years, this region has become a focal point of climate warming in the southern polar part of our planet. This is why all research findings obtained here are used by scientists to assess the prospects of changes in Earth’s natural environment. The infrastructure of Russia’s Bellingshausen Station is quite large and complex. Due to the local climate conditions, namely, the station’s close proximity to the ocean, high humidity and large amounts of precipitation, which cause strong metal corrosion, Bellingshausen Station is in need of constant repairs and maintenance. We closely monitor the condition of the station and make great efforts to maintain its operability,” says Aleksandr Makarov, director of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.
Currently, up to 20 people are constantly working at Bellingshausen Station, implementing research programs in the fields of meteorology, actinometry, coastal hydrology and oceanology. In the seasonal period, the staff is joined by another ten specialists in marine hydrobiology, microbiology, glaciology, geomorphology, soil science and entomology.