HMS Iron Duke, HMS Protector Enter South Georgia
Surrounded by snow covered mountain peaks and dark seas the sleek grey hull of HMS Iron Duke barely stands out as she makes her entrance into South Georgia.
HMS Iron Duke berthed in South Georgia for a few days during which time members of the ship’s company visited the Government office and the British Antarctic Survey’s base at King Edward Point.
Anchored at Grytviken, the ship welcomed on board members of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) who explained the sensitive ecological environment of South Georgia.
HMS Iron Duke also met up with their ice patrol ship colleagues on board HMS Protector which had battled hurricane force winds and waves of up to 24 metres high to visit South Georgia on the way to her deployment in Antarctica.
She had sailed across the South Atlantic and Southern ocean towards Antarctica to get there, experiencing nearly three weeks and 3500 nm of extremely testing conditions.
In a brief five hour window HMS Protector provided the operation with most of her boats, endorsed the new Navigator and one of the Officers of the Watch in Dynamic Positioning.
They also received briefs from the South Georgia Government and BAS and loaded equipment to allow marine samples to be preserved once collected by the ship’s team of divers.
The ice patrol ship’s tasking is extremely varied, ranging from Hydrographic Surveying and logistic support to assistance with scientific research. This year the diving team will collect marine specimens and bottom samples throughout the Antarctic Peninsula in support of BAS environmental research.
Able Seaman Diver Daniel McLaughlin, who is at the start of his first season onboard, said:
“Collecting scientific samples is a far cry from Explosive Ordnance Disposal. I hope that our efforts will make a real contribution in BAS’s research, plus I get to dive in the ice in some of the most stunning locations on the planet.”
HMS Protector is due to return to the UK next summer after a full season in Antarctica. HMS Iron Duke left Portsmouth in June for a seven-month South Atlantic patrol and will return before Christmas.
Press Release, October 09, 2014; Image: UK Navy