HMS Protector cuts through Antarctic ice

HMS Pro­tec­tor, the Roy­al Navy’s ice patrol ship, has cut through the ice floes of Antarc­ti­ca for the first time.

 -
HMS Protector’s jour­ney through the Lemaire Chan­nel, sit­u­at­ed along the Antarc­tic Penin­su­la, where the ship broke through ice for the first time [Pic­ture: LA(Phot) Arron Hoare, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The ship arrived in Antarc­ti­ca for the first time two weeks ago after her long sail south from Portsmouth and is fol­low­ing up impor­tant sur­vey work for ship­ping in the region with vis­its to remote research bases locked in the frozen con­ti­nent.

At Decep­tion Island, a stun­ning water-filled vol­canic caldera that is one of just two in the world, Pro­tec­tor sent her small­er sur­vey boat James Caird IV with multi­beam echo sounder equip­ment to sur­vey the area known as ‘Neptune’s Bel­lows’.

It was here that in 2007 the cruise ship MV Nord­kapp ran aground and was assist­ed by the pre­vi­ous ice patrol ship HMS Endurance.

Lead­ing Sea­man Chris Smith, the boat’s coxswain, said:

“Work­ing on the Neptune’s Bel­lows sur­vey was a high­ly sat­is­fy­ing job pro­fes­sion­al­ly; being part of a team that worked on some­thing this impor­tant to the safe­ty of nav­i­ga­tion makes all the hard work of being away from my fam­i­ly worth­while.”

A team of four spent two nights at an aban­doned Admi­ral­ty base, brav­ing gale-force winds with 55-knot (100km/h) gusts to both col­lect infor­ma­tion used for chart-mak­ing and satel­lite-posi­tion­ing and to record the tidal range.

The team took pre­cise GPS mea­sure­ments on land to make sure the tide gauge was lev­el. The infor­ma­tion will allow the UK Hydro­graph­ic Office in Taunton to pro­duce accu­rate charts for ships tran­sit­ing the area.

Lieu­tenant Gra­ham Blenk­in­sop, the offi­cer in charge of the sur­vey boat, said:

“The oppor­tu­ni­ty to sur­vey Neptune’s Bel­lows was fan­tas­tic; being able to use the Roy­al Navy’s most advanced sur­vey motor boat and in such a stun­ning area.

“It was even more sat­is­fy­ing to know that the work we were doing will have a direct impact on the safe­ty of the many cruise ships and research ves­sels that pass through Neptune’s Bel­lows and to know that we have done our part to make such an iso­lat­ed part of the world safer for the ships and their crews.”

Lat­er, some of the crew of HMS Pro­tec­tor vis­it­ed the Span­ish Antarc­tic sta­tion Gabriel de Castil­la, meet­ing base com­man­der Major Anto­nio Casals Abra­ham and his team, who greet­ed them with a British Union Flag fly­ing next to the Span­ish flag on the beach.

After a tour, Lieu­tenant Com­man­der Andy Storey, Oper­a­tions Offi­cer on Pro­tec­tor, pre­sent­ed a ship’s crest to the base com­man­der and invit­ed him to din­ner with Cap­tain Peter Sparkes, Protector’s Com­mand­ing Offi­cer, and the Com­mand­ing Offi­cer of the Span­ish Antarc­tic patrol ship SPS Las Pal­mas.

It was in the Lemaire Chan­nel that HMS Pro­tec­tor first broke the ice to mark her role as the Roy­al Navy’s ice patrol ship. It took four hours to trav­el through the pas­sage, with the ice increas­ing steadi­ly, and seals and pen­guins on the ice floes.

Pro­tec­tor then moved on to Port Lock­roy, a his­toric British base manned by the UK Antarc­tic Her­itage Trust. She brought vital stock, loaded in Portsmouth, to resup­ply the base, as well as its Post Office and small shop.

The ship’s work boat Ter­ra Nova deliv­ered the sup­plies and then trans­ferred build­ing waste back to Pro­tec­tor to fol­low Antarc­tic Treaty and envi­ron­men­tal pro­to­cols.

The ship’s com­pa­ny vis­it­ed the muse­um at Port Lock­roy where liv­ing con­di­tions from the 1940s and 1950s are pre­served with hand­writ­ten notes and oth­er mem­o­ra­bil­ia. Lieu­tenant Simon Lock­ley dis­cov­ered that his name­sake Sub-Lieu­tenant Lock­ley was one of the first base com­man­ders there 60 years ago.

Mean­while, for three days, Pro­tec­tor deployed her cold weath­er experts, the Roy­al Marines, to com­plete their cold weath­er train­ing.

Colour Sergeant Mick Cowe, a Moun­tain Leader, said:

“The envi­ron­ment in Antarc­ti­ca offers a unique chal­lenge. We are here to pro­vide the appro­pri­ate lev­el of exper­tise to the ship’s com­pa­ny and these few days ashore have helped to con­sol­i­date our per­ish­able skill set.”

HMS Pro­tec­tor has since recov­ered sci­en­tists from the British Antarc­tic Sur­vey who were dropped off to inves­ti­gate glob­al warm­ing. Her patrol con­tin­ues.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →