Following in Shackleton's footsteps

Friday, 11th November 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:01 pm
Shackleton's Endurance being crushed by the ice

ROYAL Marines and sailors from the icebreaker HMS Protector have honoured one of the most inspirational leaders of the 20th century.

A century after Sir Ernest Shackleton landed at King Haakon Bay on South Georgia in a makeshift lifeboat – the James Caird – Protector entered the same fjord and sent her hi-tech survey launch, the James Caird IV, close to the identical spot.

In May 1916 Shackleton’s landing was followed by a 36-hour trek over the South Atlantic island’s mountains to the whaling station at Stromness.

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Members of HMS Protector's ship's company climb out of Fortuna Bay to complete the last part of Shackleton's walk.

It was from there he finally alerted the world to the plight of his expedition – every man in his party trapped on Elephant Island 800 miles away, was eventually rescued.

One hundred years on, Protector’s Royal Marines detachment led some of the ship’s company on the final four miles of Shackleton’s 20-mile nightmare trudge from Fortuna Bay into a now-abandoned Stromness.

Marine Tom Colwill said: ‘It was a privilege to be able to follow in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton – if only for a short distance.

‘The weather going over the ridge was amazing and we had fantastic views. Once we reached Stromness the fog closed in and we had a short taste of the conditions the original expedition may have experienced.’

James Caird IV and HMS Protector in King Haakon Bay

With whaling long gone, South Georgia has been re-born as a remote nature haven and an increasingly-popular destination for eco-tourists.

During the summer season more than 10,000 people now visit the island.

As a result, the charts cruise liners use to negotiate its rocky waters need to be bang up to date, so Protector and her hi-tech survey launches gather the latest data on the seabed.

Sir Ernest Shackleton Picture: Scott Polar Research Institute PPP-161202-095540001
Tthe crew hauling the James Caird after their ship Endurance broke up
Members of HMS Protector's ship's company climb out of Fortuna Bay to complete the last part of Shackleton's walk.
James Caird IV and HMS Protector in King Haakon Bay
Sir Ernest Shackleton Picture: Scott Polar Research Institute PPP-161202-095540001
Tthe crew hauling the James Caird after their ship Endurance broke up