Today a few of us visited the HMS Protector, a British Royal Navy ice patrol ship. Her mission is: “To provide a UK sovereign presence in the British Antarctic Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and their surrounding maritime areas, to underpin their security and good governance; and meet the UK treaty obligations and exercise rights under the Antarctic Treaty System through inspections, hydrographic charting and support to scientific research.”
Indeed, the scientific support this vessel provides is outstanding. She recently broke through about 500 km of ice to deliver equipment and supplies to a team of scientists at Thwaites Glacier. I recently wrote about this glacier (see day 87), and the collaboration between UK and US scientists to understand the factors controlling the movement of the glacier.
The ship is beautiful. I viewed the ship from Palmer Station, and vice versa, I viewed Palmer Station from the ship.
Impressively, she has a dynamic positioning system that enables her to maintain exact position by controlling the propellors/thrusters, all controlled by computers, which in turn are informed by sensors, gyrocompasses and the like. The ship can carry 1400 cubic meters of fuel and travels on average about 11 knots. Her large fuel capacity enables her to travel from England to South Africa without refueling. She is quite independent from her homeport in England, having left in September 2015, and returning finally in two months.
The travel to the ship was done in the safest way possible, with us squeezing into full suits, and helmet!
We had a great tour on the ship. It not only included a visit to the bridge, the engine control room and the helideck, but we also had wonderful tea in the conference room. Thank you Dan Courton and Max Friswell for hosting us today!