The British naval ship HMS Protector visited Hobart, Tasmania in the beginning of December, to work together with Australia and New Zealand to better protect Antarctica’s unique environment.

The arrival of HMS Protector in Hobart, Tasmania in the beginning of December 2015 signalled closer cooperation between the United Kingdom and Australia to uphold the conservation rules of the Antarctic Treaty system and to protect the Southern Ocean from illegal fishing activities.

HMS Protector will embark from Hobart, with Australian and New Zealand officers in support, to conduct an important fisheries patrol in the Southern Ocean. The ice-class vessel will be the first Royal Navy vessel to visit the East Antarctic and Ross Sea regions in 80 years.

HMS Protector arrives in Hobart ahead of an important fisheries patrol in the Southern Ocean. Photo: AAD
HMS Protector arrives in Hobart ahead of an important fisheries patrol in the Southern Ocean. Photo: AAD

The Director of the Australian Antarctic Division, Dr Nick Gales, said that Australia and the United Kingdom have a long tradition of close cooperation in the Antarctic region and in its Treaty system. “It is a privilege to welcome HMS Protector to Hobart.  This visit cements a long tradition of cooperation and leadership in Antarctic exploration, diplomacy and science and highlights our common commitment to the Antarctic Treaty system and its conservation principles.” Dr Gales said.

British High Commissioner to Australia, Her Excellency Menna Rawlings said HMS Protector’s Antarctic patrol was a strong example of the close working relationship between the UK and Australia. “We have much in common given our strong scientific programmes and stewardship roles in the region; indeed the patrol will see British and Australian personnel working together aboard HMS Protector to ensure fishing and other commercial activities in the Ross Sea region are carried out in line with international conservation agreements,” Ms Rawlings said.

Australian Antarctic Division Director, Dr Nick Gales welcomes HMS Protector's commanding officer Captain Rory Bryan to Hobart (Photo: AAD)
Australian Antarctic Division Director, Dr Nick Gales welcomes HMS Protector's commanding officer Captain Rory Bryan to Hobart (Photo: AAD)

Captain Rory Bryan, HMS Protector's commanding officer, said it was an honour for HMS Protector to be making its own ‘trans-Antarctic’ visit to East Antarctica and the Ross Sea region, one hundred years after Ernest Shackleton’s epic Endurance expedition. “We are delighted to be able to work in partnership with our Australian and New Zealand colleagues to underpin our shared Antarctic Treaty objectives.”

During the visit, Australia and the United Kingdom agreed to shared Antarctic priorities over the next five years. Commitments include: an annual Antarctic dialogue; enhanced scientific and logistical cooperation, closer cooperation to better protect Antarctica’s unique environment, including by establishing marine protected areas in East Antarctica and the Ross Sea region; and joint efforts to strengthen the Antarctic Treaty system.

Source: Australian Antarctic Division (AAD)