The Royal Navy icebreaking patrol ship HMS Protector is back in the water as a five-month drydocking and upgrade programme on the vessel nears its completion.
The vessel now has additional onboard space for containers and supplies as well as an added capability to deploy unmanned survey vehicles.
Protector is scheduled to sail for Antarctica in time for that continent’s summer to support the work of British and international scientists studying the Antarctic environment and conducting hydrographic surveys. One of its duties will be to transport building materials for the modernisation of the British science station at Rothera, located toward the centre of the 17 million square kilometres of the British Antarctic Territory.
The icebreaker will also conduct its own scientific and survey missions using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in Antarctica for the first time to gather data, and a new, British-made aerial drone to scout ahead and search for safe routes through the sea ice.
Protector will remain at Middlesborough’s Teesside docks until late October, when its flight deck and crane will be reinstalled to complete the overhaul. The vessel and its crew will then conduct pre-deployment training in home waters.
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