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Royal Navy’s Icebreaker Gears up to Spend Christmas on the Antarctic Peninsula

It’s been an important year for the Royal Navy’s icebreaker, the HMS Protector, and an even more important one is coming up. After its first intensive training in more than five years, the ship is returning to the Antarctic Peninsula, where it will spend Christmas in preparation for a summer of scientific research.
The HMS Protector will spend next year conducting research tasks on the Antarctic Peninsula 6 photos
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The Protector’s last stop before arriving at the Antarctic Peninsula was the island of South Georgia. After having conducted scientific survey tasks around St Helena and Ascension Islands and renewing its supplies in the Falklands, the ship continued its voyage south while also monitoring the waters in these natural protected areas to make sure that no illegal fishing activities were taking place.

The island of South Georgia was a special destination because this is where one of the world’s pioneering polar explorers was laid to rest. During a touching ceremony, the HMS Protector’s crew paid tribute to Ernest Shackleton 100 years after his death. A Royal Navy reservist, Shackleton tried to reach the South Pole, and although he did not succeed, his expeditions were an important contribution to polar exploration. In 1915, when his ship suffered a serious accident caused by ice, the explorer heroically rescued the crew on board by sailing over 800 miles in a small boat to get help.

During the ceremony, the majestic HMS Protector stayed in the background, as sailors wearing wool sweaters as a tribute to the polar explorers at the beginning of the 20th century remembered Shackleton’s daring adventures.

The Royal Navy’s icebreaker officially departed on its Arctic mission on August 10. The research and patrol vessel hasn’t been to this area in almost two years, after having to undergo a major refit in 2020. Throughout its mission in 2022, it will help update the prestigious Admiralty Charts issued by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO).

Prior to launching this important mission, the HMS Protector went on a trial deployment, where it practiced crunching ice, and managed to get to 80°41.5 North in the Greenland Sea, which was the closest point to the North Pole that a British military ship had ever reached.

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