Image Source: Hutchison Ports

Hutchison Ports Harwich International has become a new base for the British Antarctic Survey’s two ice-strengthened Royal Research Ships, the RRS James Clark Ross and the RRS Ernest Shackleton.

The two ships are making their inaugural calls at the port in September before deploying to the Antarctic, where they will remain until summer 2019.

Mark Seaman, finance director, Hutchison Ports (UK), said: “Harwich International is well known for its excellent ferry links to the Continent, however, the port has a wide range of facilities and handles a variety of cargoes and ship types. We normally see general and project cargoes as well as both dry and liquid bulks, cruise and offshore-support vessels, so the two survey ships fit well with this and are an exciting addition to our customer base.

“The British Antarctic Survey undertakes research in the Polar Regions to aid our understanding of the impact of human activity on the environment. We are pleased to be able to help them, albeit in a very small way, with their very important work.”

The RRS James Clark Ross is one of the world’s largest polar research vessels. Launched by Her Majesty the Queen in 1990, it is primarily a marine research vessel for biological, oceanographic and geophysical operations. It is equipped with a suite of laboratories and winch systems that allow scientific equipment to be deployed astern or amidships. The ship has an extremely low noise signature, allowing the deployment of sensitive acoustic equipment.

The RRS Ernest Shackleton, launched in 1995, is primarily a logistics vessel used to transport cargo, fuel and passengers. The ship also has a basic scientific capability and undertakes some research work. The vessel also has a cargo tender “Tula” on deck for ship-to-shore transfer of equipment for those occasions when the ship cannot berth alongside.

Whilst in Harwich the vessels loaded ship’s stores and a diverse range of supplies, from snow mobiles and foodstuffs, to construction materials and bonded goods, all destined for the UK’s numerous Antarctic bases. Additionally, the vessels completed a full crew change, as well as embarking a host of scientific staff and their equipment.

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