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Great Scott! Royal Navy survey ship breaks data record on Atlantic mission

6 December 2022
Royal Navy survey ship HMS Scott has smashed her data-gathering record – and she still has seven more months of work to go.

Last year the Plymouth-based vessel set a record of 400,000 square kilometres of ocean – roughly one-and-a-half times the size of the UK.

This year, in just five months she’s already scanned an area of Atlantic that’s larger than Germany: some 420,000 square kilometres.

Apart from brief port visits to take on fresh supplies and change crew, since leaving Plymouth on July 5 the ship – the fifth largest under the White Ensign (only the carriers and assault ships are bigger) – has been diligently hoovering up vast quantities of data.

The ship’s unique sonar system allows her to calculate how quickly sound waves travel through seawater, allowing the vessel to make accurate depth measurements to map the seabed.

The data gathered by the ship is of vital strategic importance to UK Defence and her crew have been working day-in day-out to ensure that maximal time is spent surveying. 

“It’s been the most successful year in the ship’s history, with the most amount of area surveyed since she was commissioned in 1997,” said Commanding Officer Commander Tom Harrison.

“We have surpassed last year’s record which is testament to the professionalism, dedication, and resilience of my crew. They have worked diligently as a team to operate and maintain Scott and have produced exceptional results. Their efforts have contributed to the UK Defence effort and have been of strategic importance.”

Another milestone passed is one million miles sailed since her commissioning 25 years ago – again thanks to the concerted efforts of the 60 crew to maintain and operate a vessel in her sunset years. 

“Despite already having travelled the equivalent of 40 times around the Earth, HMS Scott and her crew remain excited about what is to come,” Commander Harrison added.

“With seven months left of this deployment, we will continue to gather high-quality hydrographic data and therefore fulfil her crucial strategic role.” 

With seven months left of this deployment, we will continue to gather high-quality hydrographic data and therefore fulfil her crucial strategic role.

Commander Harrison

In spite of Scott’s titanic efforts to date, the Atlantic is 250 times bigger than the area surveyed in 2022.

The small ship’s company and size of the vessel means that every single sailor from able seaman to commander, has an important part to play in the ship’s success. The hard work has not gone unrecognised with £2,000 in Herbert Lott awards from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity for their achievements.

“The engineering department has faced a number of challenges during this deployment, but overcoming these has made the job rewarding and I’ve learned lots,” said marine engineer Engineering Technician Jacob ‘Jimmy’ Carr.

“Being away from home has been tough but it is made easier by visiting exciting places and being surrounded by my friends.” 

Being at sea for long periods place demands on morale so activities such as deck barbecues and a mid-ocean swim (‘hands to bathe’) in waters five kilometres deep was a unique experience.

Sailors have also enjoyed port visits in Tenerife, Cape Verde and Gibraltar and will end the year in Madeira. In Cape Verde the crew enjoyed snorkelling with loggerhead turtles, tried out Europe’s largest water park in Tenerife and hosted Commodore Tom Guy and Commander Surface Flotilla Commodore Tim Neild for a Trafalgar Night dinner.

“It has been great to be on Scott as she passed a couple of major milestones. It is incredible that the ship has travelled the equivalent of 40 times around the world over the past 25 years,” said Sub Lieutenant Ethan Starmer-Jones.

“And to have surveyed a record-breaking area the size of Germany this year shows she has plenty more miles left in the tank yet.” 
 

 

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