News story

Royal Navy celebrates Christmas early in Antarctica

The crew of a Royal Navy ship HMS Protector has celebrated Christmas early on the ice caps of Antarctica.

The ship is currently deployed to the Antarctic to carry out survey and patrol operations. As the ship will be at sea on Christmas Day, the crew decided to hold their festive celebrations early.

Pictures released today show the ship’s company enjoying a game of football before settling down to a roast turkey dinner in a real life winter wonderland.

Commanding Officer, Captain Rhett Hatcher, said:

Spending Christmas in the coldest, windiest and driest place on earth comes with a number of challenges but it is a truly unique privilege.

With 21 hours of daylight we need to remind ourselves to take a break from operations, but when we do so we know that despite being a very long way from our families and friends at home, we are proud to be on patrol for the Royal Navy and in the best possible company over the Christmas period.

HMS Protector
HMS Protector in Port Lockroy [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Vicki Benwell, Crown copyright]

HMS Protector sailed from Portsmouth in October, travelling to the Antarctic Peninsula via Cape Verde, Rio de Janeiro and South Georgia.

The British Antarctic Territory is the UK’s largest overseas territory and HMS Protector’s role is to provide a sovereign presence in the region.

The 5,000 tonne ice patrol ship is also conducting research on behalf of the UK Hydrographic Office and providing logistical support to the British Antarctic Survey organisation.

Captain Rhett Hatcher (centre) preparing to carve the turkey
Commanding Officer, Captain Rhett Hatcher (centre), prepares to carve the turkey [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Vicki Benwell, Crown copyright]
HMS Protector's ship's company playing football
HMS Protector's ship's company playing football on the ice against the setting sun in Antarctica [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Vicki Benwell, Crown copyright]
HMS Protector
HMS Protector in her transit to Vernadsky Base with Antarctica's vast landscape as a backdrop [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Vicki Benwell, Crown copyright]
HMS Protector's ship's company
HMS Protector's ship's company at the end of their football friendly on the ice [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Vicki Benwell, Crown copyright]