The Royal Navy's new ice patrol ship, HMS Protector left Portsmouth Monday for a seven-month deployment surveying and patrolling the frozen continent of Antarctica. The 5.000-tons ice-breaking ship completed an intensive period of sea trials and training prior to deploying to the Antarctic Peninsula.
HMS Protector will arrive in Antarctica for the austral summer and will conduct three work periods in the ice, reports Defence News.
She will use her multi-beam echo sounder and deploy her survey motor boat to provide cutting-edge hydrographical charting and imagery of the Antarctic region for the UK Hydrographic Office which provides 80% of the world's nautical charts.
The ship will also assist with the re-supply of British Antarctic Survey stations in the region.
HMS Protector is being leased as an interim replacement for HMS Endurance which suffered flood damage when she was operating in the South Atlantic in 2008 and was originally rescued by the Chilean Navy.
Protector was commissioned into the Royal Navy in June on the 50th anniversary of the implementation of the Antarctic Treaty and the centenary year of Scott's expedition to the South Pole.
Captain Peter Sparkes, Commanding Officer of HMS Protector commenting on the event said that we are now operationally ready to deploy to the South Atlantic. My ship's company has worked tirelessly in recent months to regenerate the Royal Navy's ice patrol ship 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.
Prior to deployment the ship's upgrade package included the removal and repositioning of the flight deck from the bridge roof to the stern, the installation of a multi-beam echo sounder survey system, a complete overhaul of the main engines and gearboxes, the fitment of a comprehensive communications and navigation suite, and the addition of naval marking.