Last week the MV Fram, a Norway-based cruise ship belonging to Hurtigruten risked becoming trapped in thick ice off the coast of Antarctica but was guided to safety by the Royal Navy in a two¬hour operation.
Ice Patrol Ship HMS Protector broke through the densely packed ice which had surrounded the MV Fram, blocking her path and trapping the bow, as she carried passengers through the Antarctic Sound.
“This is what we do in the Ice Patrol Ship, we are the Royal Navy’s equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife – red, versatile and always there when you need us,” said Captain Sparkes of the Royal Navy.
Ice conditions in Antarctica are extremely variable and subject to the vagaries of the continent’s wind and local currents.
Ships can quickly become beset when the concentration of pack ice increases, which is often very quick. Once they are trapped, ships may have to wait for days, or even weeks, to escape.
HMS Protector is continuing with her patrol of the British Antarctic Territory, supporting an embarked International inspection team’s surveys of environmentally sensitive sites around the Peninsula.
The ship, which serves as the UK’s Sovereign presence in Antarctica, will complete three further five-week patrols of the continent before heading north at the beginning of April and the onset of the Austral Winter.
Source: Royal Navy
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