Tens of thousands of people lined the harbour to welcome HMS Queen Elizabeth to her home port for the first time.
Navy Ice Patrol Ship Returns Home
The Royal Navy's ice patrol ship is arriving home in Portsmouth after 9 months at sea.
HMS Protector deployed from Portsmouth on September 17th 2012 and headed south via St Helena, Simon's Town in South Africa and Tristan da Cunha before arriving in Antarctica in early December.
Operating in the British Antarctic Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands throughout the Austral (or Antarctic) Summer, the ship conducted three intensive work periods in the ice, and a fourth work period in the waters surrounding South Georgia.
Protector's programme included: providing direct support to a UK led multi-national Antarctic Treaty Inspection team; landing and recovering British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists at ecologically important sites; assisting with ongoing environmental and conservation work including hosting an international team updating the visitor guidelines for regularly visited sites and surveying the poorly charted waters around the Antarctic Peninsula.
Her multi-beam echo sounder and Survey Motor Boat provides hi-tech hydrographic charting and imagery used to improve the navigational awareness and safety of other ships and mariners operating in the area. It's thought this could benefit the cruise trade, with more liners taking tourists to the Antarctic.
HMS Protector's Commanding Officer, Captain Rhett Hatcher said:
"Completing such a busy and diverse programme in the ship's second deployment to Antarctica in as many years represents a significant achievement for HMS Protector's ship's company.
"A very full summer lies ahead of us, which will include a visit to Cambridge our affiliated city and operational sea training. Protector will deploy to the Antarctic again in autumn 2013."
HMS Protector began life as the MV Polarbjørn (Polar Bear), a Norwegian icebreaker and polar research vessel.
The Ship, which is deployed on operations for 330 days a year, is capable of positioning to centimetric accuracy in winds of up to 80 knots and is fitted with an impressive array of specialist equipment, including: a hull mounted multi-beam echo sounder; a state-of-the-art Survey Motor Boat (SMB), 'James Caird IV'; a 8.5m ramped Work Boat, 'Terra Nova'; 6 high-speed rigid inflatable and inflatable boats; 2 specialist tracked vehicles; 3 quad bikes and trailers, and a Land Rover.
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