The festive spirit has arrived onboard HMS Protector, the Royal Navy’s 5,000 tonne Ice Patrol Ship.
After breaking ice for the first time this Austral Summer, 20 members of HMS Protector’s Ship’s Company took to the ice dressed as Santa in support of EACH, the Ship’s affiliated charity. The Santas, accompanied by Rudolph, were gathered at 10am for a gentle warm up led by the Executive Officer, Commander Don Mackinnon, currently in command for this Antarctic Patrol, before it was “on your marks, get set, ….ho ho ho!”
The Santa run was conducted on ice in the waters surrounding Deception Island, a dormant water-filled volcano, one of only two in the world.
Breaking through a sheet of snow covered ice before coming to a planned stop, HMS Protector took position and safety checks were carried out, before Protector’s eager Santas took to the ice. Amid perfect weather conditions, and under the watchful eye of two seals that had taken up post next to the ship, the Santas completed their run.
This year, EACH conducted seven Santa runs across Essex and East Anglia throughout the festive period, raising more than £34,000 for the charity. Another Santa Run is planned for 11th January in Colchester.
It is traditional for Royal Naval ships to adopt a charity from their affiliated town so that they can fundraise whilst away from the UK. Due to the work that HMS Protector conducts in Antarctica, she has formed a close liaison with a number of organisations in the Cambridge area (amongst them the British Antarctic Survey and the Scott Polar Research Institute) and as such is affiliated to the City of Cambridge. HMS Protector has been affiliated with EACH since August 2012.
Denise Norris-Fenn, EACH Cambridgeshire Partnerships Manager, said:
“We were absolutely delighted when HMS Protector became affiliated with EACH in August and are looking forward to developing our relationship. The photographs of the Santa Run in the Antarctic waters surrounding Deception Island are stunning and really capture the essence of what Santa Runs are all about; having fun while raising vital funds for such an important cause.“
Commander Don Mackinnon stated:
“With 21 hours of daylight in every 24, our working day in Antarctica tends to be a long one. Yesterday for example our first boat group departed the ship at 0830 in the morning and the last one finally got back at 2300 that night. With that sort of work pace it’s therefore nice to be able to take a break from operations now and again, and do something both for fun, and also to help our affiliated charity at the same time. Santa’s traditional home might be the North Pole….but as you can see he has helpers that visit the other one too!”