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● Endurance’s Lynx 434 shut down
at Fortuna Glacier, where the Royal
Marines following the Shackleton
route on South Georgia set up camp.
Among other items on board the
helicopter were Haribo sweets to
keep energy and morale levels up
IT WAS not quite standing room only, but The work in South Georgia was only the tip of group of four beat poor conditions to
space was at a bit of a premium as HMS
the iceberg, as once they have collected their complete it in four days.
Endurance returned to South Georgia,
data most of the work is done back in the UK. Endurance’s Lynx helicopters also
carrying out a range of tasks for the various
The largest group of people on Endurance assisted with the removal of several es: LA(Phot) Kaz Williams (HMS Endurance)
Service and civilian groups on board.
for the transit to South Georgia was the disused huts at a BAS base on South
Whenever Endurance heads off on an Antarctic
British Schools Explorers Society (BSES) – 19 Georgia – only historically important
Operational Period (AOP), which usually last two
personnel, including accompanying experts, man-made structures can remain.
to three weeks, she carries a number of people
who conducted penguin and seal surveys and South Georgia is very different from
whose workplace is the wilderness.
carried out glaciological studies. Antarctica – temperatures are warm
On the most recent AOP there were so many
Endurance took them to South Georgia and enough for vegetation to grow and
on board that all the beds were full and some
then flew them to their initial location, and animals such as reindeer to survive.
ended up sleeping in the library.
although the group was fairly independent, This means precautions such as
So what was everyone on board up to?
Endurance made regular contact and was ready cleaning boots before stepping ashore
The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has long
to assist quickly if any emergency arose. need to be followed to prevent foreign
worked with Endurance, and many scientists
Also on board were two film crews. vegetation contaminating native flora
return time and again to carry out research in
In South Georgia the BBC filmed from the air and fauna.
Antarctica and the surrounding islands.
and underwater; their holy grail was a giant ‘bait Endurance is currently under the
This time there were seven scientists and
ball’, a mass of krill created by tidal influences, command of Lt Cdr Tom Sharpe, her
support staff going to South Georgia, involved
which can be several miles in size attracting Executive Officer (XO).
in different projects.
hundreds of predators including seals and This is the first time the XO
whales, and which has never been filmed. has taken command on an AOP,
One scientist, Pete Bucktrout, was filming
Spiderlight Films joined the ship two months ago but Endurance’s CO, Capt Gavin
fur seals to estimate numbers – South Georgia
and now feel like part of the ship’s company. Pritchard, returned to the UK
has the greatest concentration of fur seals on
They will be filming a documentary of the ship for this period confident he was
during the rest of the deployment, to be aired on leaving his ship in good hands.
Geologist Mike Curtis aimed to establish
Channel Five later this year. Lt Cdr Sharpe said: “Having all
the geological history of South Georgia, while
Meanwhile HMS Endurance carried out her our civilian stakeholders on board
another team, including scientists Dom Hodgson
normal range of activities. means that HMS Endurance is
and Steve Roberts, studied lake sediments
Survey work and magnetic studies took place now back to her full operational
to determine how the climate of the Antarctic
most days – the area is now popular with cruise tasking pace this season, which
Peninsula has varied. ships which need to navigate safely, and in is a satisfying feeling.
Cartographer Alison Cook did a GPS survey such a remote area much of the ocean beds “Working with the scientists,
across Thatcher Peninsula to create a new are unexplored, or have not been charted for other stakeholders and our own
detailed topographic map of the area. decades. personnel in a safe manner is
Some BAS staff were flown on and off The Royal Marines successfully recreated the what the Royal Navy’s ice patrol
Endurance to carry out their work, others used walk that Shackleton and his men took across ship is for; doing all this tasking
Endurance’s boats to get to the island. the island in order to get to the whaling station boosts moral on board, making
Some camped, some spent a few nights at the at Stromness. everyone proud to be serving
BAS base on South Georgia and some stayed This walk, often attempted by Royals, is on a unique ship in such a
mainly on board the ship. usually curtailed by the weather; this time the remote environment.”
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