New Ice patrol ship heads for Antarctic

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THE Royal Navy’s new ice patrol ship is today set to leave Portsmouth on an eight-month deployment surveying Antarctica.

HMS Protector has just completed an intensive period of sea trials and training prior to deploying to the Antarctic Peninsula.

The 5,000-tonne icebreaker will arrive in the frozen continent for the austral summer and will conduct three work periods in the ice.

She will use her multi-beam echo sounder and deploy her survey motor boat to provide cutting edge hydrographic charting and imagery of the region for the UK Hydrographic Office which provides 80 per cent of the world’s nautical charts.

The ship will also help with the re-supply of British Antarctic Survey stations in the region.

HMS Protector’s Commanding officer, Captain Peter Sparkes, said: ‘We are now operationally ready to deploy to the South Atlantic. My ship’s company have worked tirelessly in recent months to regenerate the Royal Navy’s ice patrol capability. Working doggedly as a team we have achieved all that has been asked of us and to a very demanding timeline.

‘I could not be more proud of the men and women under my command.

‘We are now ready in all respects to face the rigours of seven months in the extremely hostile environment of Antarctica.

HMS Protector is is being leased as a replacement for HMS Endurance which has been out of action since she almost sank after suffering flood damage off Chile in 2008.

She was commissioned into the Royal Navy in June during a ceremony on the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty and the centenary year of Captain Robert Scott’s expedition to the South Pole.