Posted on 27.12.2011 - 15:00 EST in MARINE/VESSEL NEWS by Rons_ROV_Links
She's big, she's red and she's bound for the ice for the first time. The Royal Navy's new ice patrol ship HMS Protector sails on her maiden voyage under the White Ensign on Monday to begin eight months surveying and patrolling the frozen continent.
The 5,000-tonne icebreaker has just completed an intensive period of sea trials and training prior to deploying to the Antarctic region.
She has three 'work periods' lined up around Antarctica, using her multi-beam echo sounder and her survey motor boat to provide highly-accurate hydrographic data and imagery for the UK Hydrographic Office, which provides four out of five nautical charts used by the world's mariners.
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.
Protector was commissioned into the Royal Navy in June on the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty and the centenary year of Scott's expedition to the South Pole.
Over the spring, summer and autumn, she's undergone various alterations and seen naval and hydrographic equipment added to prepare her for this specialist mission.
Her flight deck was moved from the bridge roof to the stern; a multi-beam echo sounder survey system was fitted; the main engines and gearboxes were overhauled; a comprehensive communications and navigation suite was installed; and naval markings, including her A173 pennant number; and, most importantly, a giant penguin crest has been fixed to the funnel.
Protector's equipped with a flotilla of small boats, including: the state-of-the-art survey motor launch, James Caird IV, (named for the Scottish philanthropist who funded Shackleton's 1914 expedition to the ice), the work boat Terra Nova (named for Scott's ship on the ill-fated expedition to reach the Pole), and two Pacific 22 sea boats (Aurora and Nimrod).
In addition, Protector will carry three of the Royal Marines' BV206 all-terrain vehicles and four quad bikes, complete with trailers; the ship's powerful crane can lift them on and off the ice to assist with the re-supply of British Antarctic Survey scientific stations.
"We are now operationally ready to deploy to the South Atlantic. My ship's company have worked tirelessly in recent months to re-generate the Royal Navy's ice patrol ship capability," said Capt Peter Sparkes, Protector's first Commanding Officer. "Working doggedly as a team we have achieved all that 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."
If you want to see Protector leave Portsmouth, she's due past Round Tower at 4.15pm on Monday 28 November.