HMS Protector charts Antarctic waters

The Russian destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov as seen from HMS Somerset in the Moray Firth

Royal Navy ship shadows a Russian destroyer

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WATCHED by a colony of curious penguins, sailors on board HMS Protector are surveying previously uncharted areas of Antarctica.

The Portsmouth-based ship is looking at areas of the South Sandwich Islands in the Southern Ocean.

HMS Protector off the Sandwich Islands

HMS Protector off the Sandwich Islands

Using her multi-beam echo sounder, the ship gathered data for the UK Hydrographic Office to fill in missing data in the admiralty charts.

At the same time, a survey team was sent to Thule Island to update the environmental survey records for the government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, a British Overseas Territory.

The survey findings will be analysed to assess the scale of any clean-up work required as a result of human presence and whether it would cause disruption for the resident penguin colonies.

Captain Rhett Hatcher said: ‘Part of our tasking is to gather data using our hi-tech on-board equipment and also to send teams of personnel ashore to conduct physical surveys.

‘This takes us to some very inhospitable and challenging environments but my team are well trained.’