Portsmouth school children delighted to be affiliated with new ship

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SCHOOL pupils are to follow HMS Protector wherever she goes after becoming an official affiliate of the Royal Navy’s new Antarctic warship.

Protector will be commissioned into the fleet tomorrow on the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty.

And naval cadets at Portsmouth Grammar School will be guests of honour at Portsmouth Naval Base as the school celebrates its first official affiliation with a navy warship.

Teacher Angela Carter, who is a lieutenant in the school’s Combined Cadet Force, said: ‘We are thrilled to be affiliated with a ship and are looking forward to a long and happy relationship with HMS Protector.’

Cadets commander Sue Sheldrick said her pupils were ‘excited’ about the ceremony, adding: ‘It’s a rare event and they are honoured to be so involved.’

Protector’s commanding officer, Captain Peter Sparkes, whose wife Karen teaches biology at Portsmouth Grammar School, said: ‘Our operational programme is taut and we face many challenges in the coming months as we seek to transform a merchant ship into a warship but we are delighted that representatives from the Portsmouth Grammar School’s Royal Navy section of the CCF will be able to join us for our commissioning ceremony.’

Protector is a polar research and survey vessel on loan from Norwegian shipping firm GC Rieber on a minimum three-year lease costing £26m.

She is in replace of the icebreaker HMS Endurance, which almost sank after a mechanical error off Chile in 2008.