The Royal Navy’s specialist ice-breaking survey ship HMS Protector has arrived in Plymouth – her new base-port – for the first time, to a warm welcome from families and friends.
The vessel returned to HM Naval Base Devonport after a 19-month deployment in the Antarctic. As the Navy’s Ice Patrol Ship she operated in the South Atlantic and the Antarctic Peninsula to support the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in diplomatic terms and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) by conducting survey operations throughout the region.
The weather and ice make it impossible for the ship to remain in the South Atlantic during the winter season, so the ship moved to the Caribbean region and West Africa to carry out data-gathering as well as embarking a team to support any humanitarian disaster relief operation if required.
Plymouth-based Flag Officer Sea Training staff embarked to provide training before a second summer in Antarctica.
In Antarctica a team of international inspectors onboard visited bases and cruise ships to ensure they were keeping to the Antarctic Treaty Guidelines.
Work has also been completed to support the BAS who required the berth and approaches to their base at Rothera surveying to plan for the arrival of a new ship.
When HMS Protector sailed from Portsmouth in 2013 she was still owned by GC Rieber and leased by the Royal Navy, since then the ship has been purchased by the Navy and her base port changed from Portsmouth to Plymouth which means this is the first time Protector has been to her new port other than for training.
The ship now undergoes a maintenance period followed by extensive training before preparing to deploy again later in 2015.
Image: Royal Navy