Royal Navy sailors mark heroic Antarctic voyage of British polar hero

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HAVING spent the last Antarctic summer celebrating the deeds of one British polar hero – Captain Robert Scott – the crew of the Royal Navy’s icebreaker have opened the 2016-17 survey season honouring his rival.

A century after Sir Ernest Shackleton landed at King Haakon Bay on South Georgia in a makeshift lifeboat – the James Caird – HMS 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 island’s mountains to the whaling station at Stromness, where he alerted the world to the plight of his expedition; every man in his expedition party trapped on Elephant Island, 800 miles away, was rescued.

One hundred years later and Protector’s Royal Marines detachment led some of the ship’s company on the final 6km of Shackleton’s 32km walk from Fortuna Bay into a now-abandoned Stromness.

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