Royal Navy’s Antarctic patrol ship HMS Protector left the Antarctic peninsula after autumn arrived in the Southern Hemisphere and visited Ghana during her time in African waters.
During their seven-day visit to Ghana, Protector’s sailors and Royal Marines showed off the ship and her hi-tech kit to senior government officials, local youngsters and high-ranking military figures and, unusually, hosted a UK Border Force contingent in the training of Ghanaian maritime security forces.
Piracy has been an issue for some time in the neighboring Gulf, while drug traffickers have tried to slip narcotics through the Ghanaian Tema port.
Border Force have a team based in Ghana to assist with training enforcement agencies. The arrival of Protector allowed them to use the ship to provide some authentic board and search instruction to members of the Ghanaian Joint Port Control Unit.
So armed Ghanians scrambled up the side of the scientific vessel and began a systematic search of the 292ft ship which was playing the part of a suspected weapons trafficker, skippered by the awkward and belligerent Thomas Bees (normally the XO’s assistant aboard Protector).
“To end up in sub-tropical Ghana is unusual for Protector – we’re far more used to the cold and desolate environment of Antarctica,” said Lt Cdr Matt Lindeyer, Protector’s 1st Lieutenant.
“The training proved invaluable for the local security forces and helped them to hone their enforcement skills in the ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of commercial shipping moving along the west coast of Africa,”
Boarding complete, Protector’s crew opened her gangway to a range of groups – recruits from Ghana’s Navy, pupils from a local school and Sea Cadets – to demonstrate the capabilities and survey equipment onboard the Royal Navy’s only icebreaker.
The ship is continuing her work off the west African seaboard, this time south of the Equator.
She has been away from the UK for more than 18 months, rotating one third of her crew every few weeks to sustain such a protracted period deployed.
Protector is not due back home until she’s completed a third season in the Antarctic next year.