Saturday, December 17, 2011

All Roads Lead To Antarctica

Seems the Antarctic is 'the place to be', this southern summer...
The Royal Navy is on its way down too!
In what is probably nothing more than a coincidence, its new ice patrol ship HMS Protector embarked on her maiden voyage under the White Ensign on 28 November, to begin seven months of surveying and patrolling the frozen continent. She has just completed an intensive period of sea trials and training prior to deployment.
Around Antarctica, she'll be using her multi-beam echo sounder and survey motor boat to provide highly-accurate hydrographic data and imagery for the UK Hydrographic Office which provides 80% of the world's nautical charts. The ship will also assist with the re-supply of British Antarctic Survey stations in the region.
HMS Protector is a Norwegian icebreaker built in 2001. She is being leased as an interim replacement for HMS Endurance which suffered flood damage when operating in the South Atlantic in 2008.
Over the northern spring, summer and autumn, she’s undergone various alterations including the removal and repositioning of the flight deck from the bridge roof to the stern, the installation of a multibeam echo sounder survey system, a complete overhaul of the main engines and gearboxes, the fitting of a comprehensive communications and navigation suite, and the addition of naval markings (A173).
With a top speed of only 15 knots, she's a 5,000 tonne workhorse, not a don't expect her to put on any show of strength or solidarity, in the unlikely event of encountering the pro- and anti-whaling picnic parties.
Like I said, it's just a coincidence...probably...

PS: 17 Dec.2011 - ...meanwhile, a mercy dash to rescue a Russian fishing vessel Sparta, taking on water in the Ross Sea. When one looks at pix of the longliner, one has to wonder about its suitablity for those waters - it certainly does not look (and clearly was not) iceproof!

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