HMS Protector Maps British Overseas Territory

HMS Protector Maps British Overseas Territory

SURVEY ship HMS Protector has visited the remote island of Tristan da Cunha to conduct the first systematic survey of the British Overseas Territory since the 1970s.

The only survey to have been taken using modern techniques, the Portsmouth-based ship used her motorboat, James Caird IV, and onboard state-of-the-art systems to do a multi-beam echo sounder survey of the Edinburgh Anchorages.

Edinburgh of the Seven Seas is the main settlement on Tristan da Cunha that was forced to evacuate its entire population to England following a volcanic eruption in 1961.

In 1962 a Royal Society expedition visited the islands to assess the damage and reported that the settlement had only been marginally affected. Most families returned to Edinburgh in 1963.

The island is the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world, lying 1,750 miles from the nearest land, South Africa, and 2,088 miles from South America.

The territory consists of the main island of Tristan da Cunha itself, which measures 11 kilometres across, along with the uninhabited Nightingale Islands and the wildlife reserves of Inaccessible Island and Gough Island. It has a permanent population of 275.

Although Edinburgh remained habitable, the waters surrounding the settlement were badly affected by the volcanic eruption, making them particularly hazardous for navigation and requiring the survey work of HMS Protector.

Throughout her three-day visit the ship also conducted a fishery protection patrol around the islands. Her presence reaffirms the UK’s commitment to the area and in this instance also provides a tangible survey product for the local people and economies.

Captain Peter Sparkes, HMS Protector’s Commanding Officer said: “It is a genuine pleasure and privilege for HMS Protector and the Royal Navy to be able to help in making the waters around Tristan da Cunha safer for all seafarers; we are delighted to be here.”

Naval Today Staff, November 13, 2012; Image: RN