The Royal Navy’s ice-breaker, HMS Protector, has returned to the UK following a four-year deployment.
The red and white-hulled vessel is a familiar site in those unforgiving waters, as Protector racked up 136,608 miles in her lengthy deployment in the ocean surrounding the southern continent, visiting New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, and circumnavigating Antarctica for the first time.
Britain’s ice patrol ship plays a key role in protecting the UK’s interests in the Antarctic region, such as the Falkland Islands and Southern Thule, and also helps in research and conservation efforts.
During her deployment, Protector conducted a number of surveys to improve and keep safe shipping routes as well as contributing to important Anglo-American research on glacial melting.
She was purchased by the Ministry of Defence in 2013 as a full replacement for HMS Endurance. Prior to that, she had been leased to the MOD. Currently docked in Plymouth, Protector is due to sail to Middlesbrough for a refit, before returning to the Southern Ocean in the autumn.