Royal Navy Portsmouth-based Type 42 destroyer HMS Gloucester, which is nearing the end of a seven-month deployment to the South Atlantic, has rounded off her Falkland Islands’ patrol with a visit to South Georgia.
The Fighting G made her way though the turquoise waters of Drygalsky Fjord to assist the British Antarctic Survey staff based in South Georgia, to assess the effects of climate change.
The ship deployed her Lynx aircraft to help their conservation work by taking aerial photographic surveys of eight glaciers which will allow the BAS to compare these with previous images and determine if the glaciers are retreating and at what rate.
In South Georgia this is particularly important for the millions of ground nesting birds and the glaciers are the only thing preventing rats from stealing the eggs and threatening their survival.
HMS Gloucester’s visit came at the height of the southern summer which meant that the sailors were also treated to visits from inquisitive fur seal pups and penguins for which the islands are famed.
Darren Christie, South Georgia Environment Officer said: “The photos were absolutely brilliant. I can’t emphasise enough how important this information is to the management of the island and it isn’t something we could have easily achieved without HMS Gloucester’s assistance.”
The ship’s company also helped to bring stores and equipment to the island and moved the BAS around their different satellite stations.
Commanding Officer Commander David George said: “To go to such a place is an immense privilege. For sailors, it is something unusual and of low-intensity but it reminds us that there are other things. Things that are worth striving of fighting for come in may shapes and sizes and one of them is that this wonderful haven should be conserved, which in this day and age is being managed by people like the British Antarctic Survey and South Georgia government”.