The New Year marks the 100th Anniversary of Captain Robert Scott’s Antarctic endeavors and his heroic efforts to reach the South Pole, which ultimately led to his team’s tragic demise in 1912.
Scott’s outstanding contribution to the UK and to science will be commemorated by the British Services Antarctic Expedition 2012 (BSAE2012), who will travel to the Peninsula Arm of Antarctica, in the ‘Spirit of Scott’
But unlike other expeditions seeking to follow in Scott’s footsteps in 2012, the BSAE will travel in the Spirit of Scott, but not in his tracks. Instead, and very much in the ethos of Scott’s 1910-1913 expedition, the BSAE aim will be: “to conduct scientific exploration in remote areas of the Antarctic Peninsula, seeking to further the bounds of human exploration and knowledge.”
This expedition will be the first “joint” expedition mounted to the ‘mainland’ of the Antarctic Peninsula by the British Armed Services.
It will follow three UK Joint Service expeditions to explore ‘Islands’ (Elephant, Brabant and Smith) and three recent British Army expeditions (2001, 2004, and 2007), continuing a series of responsible, ethical and ecological expeditions to the area.
The expedition aims to maintain the long tradition of the British Armed Services involvement in exploration and in particular, that of Polar science exploration.
The expedition commencing in January 2012 will seek to conduct research in the Peninsula Arm of Antarctica, an area which is warming faster than anywhere else on the planet. Amongst other things, this science will contribute to an understanding of the factors influencing this rapid warming.
Their unique journey will be followed in schools and universities as part of an Education Outreach Program (www.etelive.org). Various activities will be undertaken to ensure the science activity is linked to inform and educate the general public and in particular primary and secondary school children.
The team of 24 (divided into three groups of 8) with 14 members of the Army, 6 from the Royal Navy, 4 from the Royal Air Force and 1 Royal Marine, will sail from Chile in the 75 foot yacht Australis and cross the infamous Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula.
Once on the peninsula the expedition will follow Scott’s model and set up a base from which to mount exploration and conduct forays into remote areas of the Peninsula. The expedition also plans to make a series of daring ascents of previously unclimbed mountains in the region.
After news of Scott and his team’s demise reached the UK, funds were contributed by the public to look after the families of the heroic explorers. In keeping with this sentiment, the BSAE2012 aims to raise money for modern day military heroes. Therefore, the team also plans to raise £10,000 for the charity Help for Heroes as part of their overall expedition aim.
Lieutenant Commander Paul Hart, RN – Deputy Leader of the expedition and Leader of a component of the expedition to cross the Avery Plateau, explains:
“It is little comprehended that had Scott and his team managed to make the last 11 miles to 1 Ton Dump and then achieve safety, they would likely all have been double and possibly triple amputees.
This is very resonant with those who are returning from campaigns in Afghanistan with life changing injuries.
As a naval officer I realize the lengths Captain Scott RN went to in order to provide us with the science data that is still used as a baseline for today’s studies and I can equate this with the sacrifice that my fellow military personnel are facing in another, very different, area of activity but which again is approached with unquestioning determination to give of their very best for the benefit of others.
This is an ethical expedition conducting scientific research and exploration in the interests of humanity. Our expedition has been endorsed by the Scott family and has the title 'In the Spirit of Scott' as a result of our objectives.
Our science will directly contribute to the understanding of what is going on in the Antarctic region, including the level of ice-melt contributing to sea-level rise”.