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The Royal Navy's new ice patrol ship, HMS Protector, will leave Portsmouth today (Monday 28th November) for an eight-month deployment surveying and patrolling the frozen continent of Antarctica.
The 5,000-tonne ice-breaking ship has just completed an intensive period of sea trials and training prior to deploying to the Antarctic Peninsula.
HMS Protector will arrive in Antarctica for the austral summer and will conduct three work periods in the ice. She will use her multi-beam echo sounder and deploy her survey motor boat to provide cutting edge hydrographic charting and imagery of the Antarctic region 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 being leased as an interim replacement for HMS Endurance which suffered flood damage when she was operating in the South Atlantic in 2008.
Protector was commissioned into the Royal Navy in June on the 50th anniversary of the implementation of the Antarctic Treaty and the centenary year of Scott's expedition to the South Pole.
Captain Peter Sparkes, Commanding Officer of HMS Protector, said: "We are now operationally ready to deploy to the South Atlantic. My ship's company have worked tirelessly in recent months to re-generate the Royal Navy's ice patrol ship capability. Working doggedly as a team we have achieved all that that has been asked of us and to a very demanding timeline. I could not be more proud of the men and women under my command. We are now ready in all respects to face the rigours of seven months in the extremely hostile environment of Antarctica."