The Royal Navy's ice patrol ship, the HMS Protector, has successfully completed a five-week mission to the East Antarctic and Ross Sea, becoming the UK's first vessel to have visited the region in 80 years.
During the patrol mission, HMS Protector supported the work of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), in cooperation with Australia and New Zealand.
The ice patrol ship, which began its 2,000 mile voyage in December, inspected multiple fishing vessels for implementing licensing regulations in the region, participated in CCAMLR inspections at the Ross Sea, and visited the Italian Antarctic research station, Mario Zucchelli.
The HMS Protector completed eight separate work periods to the Antarctic, as well as engaging with regional allies and partner nations across Australasia, South America and Southern Africa.
The 5,000t HMS Protector was leased from Norwegian firm GC Rieber Shipping for three years by the Royal Navy in April 2011, and was then purchased in September 2013.
The vessel is equipped with Lockheed Martin's warship electronic-chart display and information system (WECDIS), which offers reduced navigator workload, while improving situational and tactical awareness for the vessel's crew, with an integrated electronic navigation picture.
Being the founding signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, the UK seeks to demonstrate its presence across the entire continent.
The country's Antarctic patrol operations involve sovereign presence in the British Antarctic Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and their surrounding maritime areas, to underpin their security and good governance; and meet the UK treaty obligations and exercise rights under the Antarctic Treaty System through inspections, hydrographic charting and support to scientific research.
Image: HMS Protector began its voyage in December. Photo: courtesy of Royal Navy.