The crew of the ice patrol ship HMS Scott will be far from home in Cape Town for Christmas s they continue their patrol.
The Plymouth-based ocean survey ship has completed the opening leg of her South Atlantic ice deployment. Only a month ago HMS Scott left Plymouth on a cold November morning and after braving storms in the Bay of Biscay, crossed the Equator in contrasting tropical conditions.
Whilst the UK suffers with freezing temperatures HMS Scott’s crew bathed in sunshine at a more than reasonable 28C. Despite the unorthodox conditions the ship’s company has celebrated the festive period in the usual fashion with mince pies and a carol service featured just before Christmas.
Santa (Petty Officer Jim Stevenson) paid an early visit to the ship to ensure gifts would be received, but ended up breaking his ankle on the upper deck and was treated in the ship’s sickbay with a broken ankle.
Luckily for him Leading Medical Assistant Michelle Trotter and colleague Chantal Smith patched him up and sent him on his way for his Christmas Eve tasking.
The second-in-command Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Phillip Newell (currently in command of HMS Scott while the commanding officer is on leave) said: “It is always difficult being away from friends and loved ones during the festive period, however Cape Town provides a fantastic back-drop for a much needed rest period before continuing south.”
The UK weather is causing some concern onboard because one third of the crew will brave the snow to return home to friends and family for Christmas. Each day they badger the ship’s meteorological officer for news on
the Siberian weather back home. The crew departures are part of the normal rotation system, which means the ship does not have to return to Plymouth to give crew members a break and can stay far from home for longer than normal. The ship can operate for 307 days at sea.
The ship is in the South Atlantic because of the UK’s long-term strategic, scientific, environmental and sustainable resource management interests in the Antarctic, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and wider area. The UK protects these interests, and the nation’s sovereignty, by taking a leading role in the Antarctic Treaty System through a policy of presence, governance, and commitment to deliver the UK’s international obligations. The ice patrol ship plays an essential role in delivery of UK objectives in the region.
HMS Scott is the Royal Navy’s deep-water survey vessel and the sixth largest vessel in the fleet, at 13,500 tons. Her size is a consequence of her sonar which is capable of surveying the deepest oceans in continuous lines of up to 400 miles in length. She was commissioned in 1997.
The full ship’s crew is 78, however, the crew rotation system means 52 are onboard at any one time during a standard 35 day operational cycle and the remainder of the crew take leave.
The UK’s claim to the British Antarctic Territory is the oldest in Antarctica dating back to 1908. Claims lodged by Argentina and Chile in the 1930s and 1940s largely overlap with this. Other states claiming territory in Antarctica are Norway, Australia, France and New Zealand. Antarctic Treaty deals with territorial sovereignty and effectively places in abeyance all such claims, recognition and non-recognition of claims, and precludes any activity to assert any new claim or enlarge any existing claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica.
The Antarctic Treaty was adopted on 1 December 1959 and came into force in 1961. The UK was the first state to ratify the treaty and we remain committed to upholding its core values of preserving the continent for peace and science and we continue to strongly support the Protocol on Environmental Protection.