Personnel from HMS Protector have removed equipment abandoned more than 30 years ago on a remote island in Antarctica.
The ice patrol ship attempted to remove equipment three years ago from Brabant Island – the second largest island of the Palmer Archipelago within the British Antarctic Territory – but were thwarted by bad weather.
A party of Royal Marines initially went ashore to recce the site, returning with a three-metre long black metal sledge, which had been used to transport a skidoo by a Joint Forces expedition in 1983-5.
The following day a number of personnel were taken ashore by the ship’s Zodiac vessels, landing within sight of chinstrap penguins and a solitary leopard seal sunning itself on the pebble beach.
The previous day the Royal Marines had moved sacks of equipment to the beach, but other abandoned kit was stuck firmly in ice.
A flurry of activity saw sailors and marines attack the site with spades, saws and ice picks, freeing numerous items, including rope, skis, scaffolding, barrels and Sudocream.
Working in teams, the crews also found maps, socks, photos and cutlery. One find, a culinary spice rack, was handed to one of Protector’s chefs, with the message “it may improve your culinary skills.”
The task took several hours and after clearing the site, personnel covered the ‘dig’ with fresh snow.
Several tonnes of kit were taken back to Protector from Brabant, which lies off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.
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