FAMILIES waved farewell to their loved ones last night as HMS Protector set sail for an eight-month adventure to the Antarctic.
The Royal Navy’s icebreaker disappeared off into the sunset just three months after she had returned from her first seven-month stint in the frozen continent.
The sailors are heading back to continue vital mapping work and make supply runs to the remote camps of British scientists.
Brothers Daniel Foreshew, 20, and Matt Foreshew, 17, of Horndean, were at the Round Tower, Old Portsmouth, to see off their dad, Warrant Officer Chris, 46.
‘He’s been in the navy 26 years and this is his last sea deployment,’ said Matt.
‘He doesn’t really want to go because he’s going to be away for Christmas and he’ll miss my 18th birthday – but it’s his job.
‘He is excited, though, about seeing more of the world because the Antarctic is one place he’s never before.’
Protector has a ship’s company of 88 sailors and will arrive in Antarctica for the austral summer.
The deployment is a first for Sub-Lieutenant Oliver Taylor, 23, who only joined the navy in May 2011.
‘He’s very excited about going away and I’m very proud of him,’ said his mum Fiona.
The budding officer recently got engaged to his childhood sweetheart Sarah Wallace who he met at school in Southampton aged 14.
Fiona said: ‘It’s tough for her. Yesterday, she spent all day baking cakes because she couldn’t cope with him going away.’
Protector joined the navy in May last year as a £26m loan replacement to fill the void left by icebreaker HMS Endurance, which almost sank in a flooding incident in 2008.
The ship’s main mission is to patrol and survey the Antarctic and South Atlantic to maintain the UK’s presence in the potentially mineral-rich region.
Commanding officer Captain Peter Sparkes said: ‘HMS Protector exemplifies the Royal Navy’s global reach and the UK government’s commitment to British interests in the South Atlantic.’