Adrien de Gerlache
- Category : Engineer-Civil
- Type : GP
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Triple Split
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Four Ways 2
Officer in the Belgian Royal Navy who led the Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897–99, the first scientific expedition to Antarctica and also the first to winter in the Antarctic region.
Baron de Gerlache studied Engineering at the Free University of Brussels and spent his holidays as a cabin boy on board transatlantic ocean liners. He joined the Belgian Navy on 19 January 1886.
After graduating from the nautical college of Ostend as first lieutenant, he was assigned to the Belgica, a hydrography ship. It was while serving there that he came up with his plan to explore Antarctica.He purchased the Norwegian-built whaling ship Patria, which, following an extensive refit, he renamed as the Belgica. With a multinational crew, which included Roald Amundsen, Frederick Cook and Henryk Arctowski, they set sail from Antwerp on 16 August 1897.
On 28 February 1898, de Gerlache's expedition became trapped in the ice of the Bellinghausen Sea, near Peter Island. Despite efforts of the crew to free the ship, they quickly realized that they would be forced to spend the winter on Antarctica. Several weeks later, on 17 May, total darkness set in, which lasted until 23 July. What followed were another 7 months of hardship trying to free the ship and its crew from the clutches of the ice. Finally, on 15 February 1899, they managed to slowly start down a channel they had cleared during the weeks before. It took them nearly a month to cover 7 miles, and on 14 March they cleared the ice. The expedition returned to Antwerp on 5 November 1899.
Adrien de Gerlache participated in several other expeditions: the Persian Gulf, Antarctica again in 1903, Greenland Sea, Barents Sea and Kara Sea.