HMS Protector in solidarity and resupply visit to Ukrainian base in Antarctica
Royal Navy sailors showed their support and solidarity with the people of Ukraine when they called out to one of the most remote outposts in the country. The Navy’s only icebreaker, HMS Protector, came across 21 scientists who maintain the Vernadsky Polar Research Station in Antarctica to check on their well-being.
They discovered that the team running the base – about 9,000 miles from their homeland – had families trapped in their homeland because of the war.
The Protector’s landing party – Captain Michael Wood and the ship’s doctor, Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Alex Clarke, together with sailors and Royal Marines ¬– delivered fresh food to the scientists, ensured that they were in good health and reassured them of UK support for their national cause.
“During the time ashore, the team confirmed the well-being of the 21 scientists who had wintered at Vernadsky,” said Captain Wood.
“Welcome supplies of fresh food were handed over to the station manager. Many station staff reported families stranded by attacks in Kharkiv and Kyiv.
The Ukrainian research base is located on Galindez Island, off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.
It was originally established as the British Antarctic Survey’s Faraday Station, but was transferred to Ukraine under a Memorandum of Understanding between the British Antarctic Survey and the State Institution National Antarctic Scientific Center of Ukraine at the beginning of 1996.
Ukrainian scientists conduct research on the Earth’s magnetic field, radiosonde of the ionosphere in the southern polar region, hydrometeorological research, geophysical research on the lithosphere – the earth’s crust and the upper part of the mantle – and study ecology of the West Antarctic Biosphere as well as the study of the medical effects of living and working in such an extreme environment.
Although the base operates year-round, its remote location means it is rarely resupplied and with few vaccinated personnel it has operated under strict Covid prevention protocols, avoiding visits.
As with Protector, as well as updating nautical charts of Antarctic waters and supporting scientific studies on the ecosystem and climate change by UK and international polar experts.
The Plymouth-based ship, which is on a five-year mission in the Polar Regions, is also making a series of goodwill visits to international bases under the Antarctic Treaty’s peaceful framework – although the ice conditions the prevented from reaching the Ukrainian station until now.