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HMS Protector solidarity visit to Ukraine's Vernadsky Antarctic base

Monday, February 26th 2024 - 11:21 UTC
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Teams from Ukraine and UK at the Vernadsky Base Teams from Ukraine and UK at the Vernadsky Base

On the two year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Royal Navy Ice Patrol HMS Protector visited the Vernadsky Base to express support and discuss how Ukraine and the UK are supporting peaceful scientific cooperation in Antarctica.

Saturday 24 February, two years on since Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, it was also an opportunity for Protector sailors and the team based there to share the stories of their families in their war-torn home and how some of the scientists plan to serve when they return to their motherland.

Protector’s Commanding Officer, Captain Tom Weaver, said: “It was a privilege to be able to visit our Ukrainian friends at Vernadsky.

“From the moment we approached the base to see the flag of Ukraine and the Union Flag hoisted together, we received the warmest of welcomes and a fascinating insight into the work they do.

“I was humbled by the scientists’ stories of families back in Ukraine in places such as Kharkiv, and by the willingness to serve their country on returning from Antarctica.”

Captain Weaver and his team were given a tour of the base – located on Galindez Island off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Vernadsky Research Base, formerly the British Faraday Station, has been operating since 1954, conducting vital research in fields such as meteorology, glaciology, and atmospheric chemistry.

The base is renowned for its contributions to understanding climate change and its impact on the Antarctic region.

It was originally established as the British Antarctic Survey’s Faraday Station but was transferred to Ukraine under a Memorandum of Understanding between the British Antarctic Survey and the State Institution National Antarctic Scientific Centre of Ukraine in early 1996.

Leading Engineering Technician (LET) Callum MacNeil, who was also part of the base visit team, said: “The base visit to Vernadsky Base was like stepping into a living museum of British and Ukrainian Antarctic exploration.

“I couldn’t help but feel a deep admiration for the legacy of exploration and discover that the British Faraday Station, now Vernadsky Base, represents.”

He added: “Even the cozy confines of the wooden bar, a remarkable structure crafted from wood originally intended for a pier, a reminder of the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the early Antarctic explorers.”

HMS Protector is currently deployed to the Antarctic region promoting British interests in the area in line with our Antarctic Treaty obligations, by working with partners including the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO), British Antarctic Survey (BAS), UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) and the governments of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands.

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