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Ice patrol ship circles globe

11 March 2016
Royal Navy ice breaker HMS Protector has arrived in Punta Arenas – marking a full circumnavigation of the globe since October.

Since leaving the UK, the ice patrol vessel has sailed more than 18,500 nautical miles of which 3000 were across the Southern Ocean.

Able Seaman (Sea) Clare Start said: “I’ve been able to visit lots of places I’ve not been to before with HMS Protector and have seen some amazing scenery.”

Close to the ice edge, the bridge team encountered huge icebergs, some measuring more than half a nautical mile in diameter. 

HMS Protector sailed solo and was at times more than 1000nm away from any other ship or human settlement in Antarctica and over 2000nm from both South America and New Zealand. 

I am very pleased to be visiting Punta Arenas again, particularly after travelling such a long way.

Captain Rory Bryan

Her Commanding Officer Captain Rory Bryan said: “I am very pleased to be visiting Punta Arenas again, particularly after travelling such a long way.  The last time a Royal Navy ship visited the Ross Sea was 80 years ago, so I hope it won’t be as long until the next one.”

It has been a busy year for HMS Protector which provides a UK sovereign presence in the British Antarctic Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and meets the UK’s obligations under the Antarctic Treaty System. Under this she provides inspections of vessels, completes hydrographic charting and support to scientific research.

In 12 months the ship has visited five different continents, 12 ports, undergone a wide-ranging maintenance package and experienced some of the world’s most inhospitable environments. 

Within the Antarctic continent teams from the ship visited bases run by many countries with scientific research interests including McMurdo Base (United States) and Scott Base (New Zealand) – the visits being a first for the Royal Navy.

In another first for the Navy, close liaison with the Australian and New Zealand Fisheries Inspectors allowed HMS Protector to complete four inspections of vessels fishing for toothfish in Antarctic Waters.All were found to be operating within the guidelines of the treaty and no illegal vessels were sighted, but it provided excellent experience for the crew.

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