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Navy’s South Atlantic guardians link up in South Georgia

15 March 2024
This is rush hour in South Georgia…

Two, yes, two Royal Navy vessels operating side-by-side in waters off the remote South Atlantic island chain.

Two, yes, two Royal Navy vessels operating side-by-side in waters off the remote South Atlantic island chain.

Standing out sharply against the snowy, rocky backdrop, icebreaker HMS Protector.

And blending in rather better with her surroundings thanks to her WW1 throwback ‘dazzle paint’ livery, patrol ship HMS Forth.

Although the two ships are frequently found south of the Equator, they seldom meet, and almost never work together.

Forth focuses around the Falklands, and Protector mostly around the Antarctic Peninsula.

Except on this rare encounter in South Georgia… as Forth conducted one of her longer-range patrols coinciding with Protector on her second and final work period of the austral summer.

HMS Protector performed her primary duty: surveying operations to update maritime charts (South Georgia is increasingly visited by cruise ships due to its stunning vistas and rich wildlife on the Antarctic), using her Multibeam Echo Sounder to scoop up data from more than 1,500 nautical miles of the southern ocean.

It has been very rewarding to assist with the Royal Navy’s environmental custodianship in the South Atlantic.

Lieutenant Commander James Robey

Forth has been working with scientists monitoring the spread of avian influenza – South Georgia’s bird life is particularly rich and the disease has reached these parts but thankfully it’s not yet widespread.

Both ships operated in demanding environmental conditions, having to navigate around icebergs – even in the austral summer.

However the rewards were reaped by both crews as they got to witness first-hand the magnificent wildlife and scenery of South Georgia.

 “It has been very rewarding to assist with the Royal Navy’s environmental custodianship in the South Atlantic,” said Lieutenant Commander James Robey, HMS Forth’s Executive Officer.

“We are very proud of our achievements in some tough conditions and have proved that with good planning and a bit of perseverance we can still achieve the mission.”

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