New charts will help break the ice xx

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PLOTTING a course through the Antarctic ice will be easier for the Royal Navy from now on, after a 21st Century upgrade.

Havant’s Lockheed Martin has installed its Warship Electronic Chart Display and Information System on board HMS Protector, the navy’s new Antarctic patrol vessel, based in Portsmouth.

It means an end to the paper charts navigators have traditionally used to plot courses and instead promises to reduce workload and help the navy deal with the changes to the polar landscape around them.

Philip Rood, spokesman for Lockheed Martin, said: ‘This is the first time we have fitted an Antarctic ice patrol vessel with this advanced hardware and software system.

‘WECDIS provides ships’ navigation teams with an integrated electronic navigation picture, greatly reducing navigator workload and increasing situational and tactical awareness for the ship’s crew.

‘The additional value of electronic charting systems in polar circles is that they remain fully functional in such regions, allowing Royal Navy ships and submarines to safely navigate in the high latitudes of the northern and southern hemispheres.’

Fittingly, one of HMS Protector’s roles in Antarctica is to map the region to provide up-to-date charts for other vessels.

The 5,000 tonne icebreaker is due to spend eight months on the frozen continent, where it is currently summertime.

Using her echo sounder and survey motorboat the ship will provide cutting-edge charting and imagery of the region for the UK Hydrographic Office, which provides 80 per cent of the world’s nautical charts.

Lockheed Martin has fitted more than 90 ships and submarines from the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary with WECDIS hardware and software, enabling ships’ navigation teams to replace paper charts.