Royal Navy press release
The distinctive Plymouth-based scientific vessel spends the austral summer – winter back in the UK – charting the waters around the frozen continent and working side-by-side with the British Antarctic Survey to gather information on the southern ocean, ice and sea levels and the region’s unique wildlife.
Given the unforgiving nature of the Antarctic environment, Protector undergoes maintenance every time she returns from the southern ocean.
And every five years she is subjected to ‘deep maintenance’ – a particularly thorough revamp which will prepare the vessel for the long term, in this case until the middle of the decade.
So over the summer, shipwrights and engineers at UK Docks are working above and below the waterline, overhauling Protector from bow to stern, topmast to keel.
Her 60-tonne crane – which has repeatedly proven its worth in loading/offloading supplies and equipment in remote locations with no port facilities – and flight deck have already been removed for major servicing and, with the dry dock emptied, extensive work is taking place on the hull; moving at four knots, the 5,000-tonne vessel can cut through ice half a metre thick.