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Captain's Letter no. 9

Captain's Letter no. 9

July 2008

Dear Friends of SPRI,

It has been some time since my last update to you all, and a lot has happened during that period. The ship left Signy Island in March having closed up the last of the BAS scientific bases for the season. They have spent the last season studying the great colonies of birds and Elephant Seals that live there. These are huge creatures and not easily pfrom doing whatever they want.

Following our visit to Signy we headed across to Deception Island. The mountainous sides of the island were very impressive and our photographer got some very good pictures to act as a memento of our time in Antarctica.

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Endurance in Deception Island

After leaving Antarctica we proceeded north to Punta Arenas in Chile for Easter Weekend. The visit proved to be a great success and gave the Ship's Company some time to relax and unwind. After a long period at sea it gave them the chance to stretch their legs and explore the lovely city as well as play a game of football against the Chilean Navy.

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We spent April in the Falkland Islands, conducting some maintenance and this gave the ship's company a chance to fly back to the UK to see family and friends. During our 18 month deployment it is important that we try to get people back when we can and this period proved to be very successful. Some of the Ship's Company were also privileged to be involved in the San Carlos Landings remembrance service which was held in the Falkland Islands to remember those that lost their lives during the battle. The Ship laid a wreath of remembrance during the service and it was very emotional for all those present.

During our crossing of the South Atlantic we were able to conduct some essential training including Fire-Fighting and Damage Control. We simulated our engine room catching fire and the Ship's Company sprang into action rehearsing our standard procedures putting the fire out quickly and safely. An engine room fire is very serious and it is important that we conduct regular training so that if it ever happened for real we could deal with it quickly and safely.

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Fire Fighting Training onboard HMS Endurance

On 5 June, we celebrated World Environment Day. Celebrated each year, it is one of the principal events by which the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) inspires awareness of the environment and focuses political attention and action. As you are aware, HMS ENDURANCE works hard to support British Antarctic Survey scientists in the harsh environment of Antarctica, as they progress their knowledge of our planet and environment with a contemporary emphasis on global warming and climate change. We did our part by staying in the Southern Hemisphere this year instead of returning home to the UK during the Austral winter. This saved a lot of fuel and thus reduced our carbon footprint considerably. The day was a huge success and between us we all did our bit to help the planet.

We are now alongside in South Africa where we are conducting our Supported Maintenance Period until August this year. The aim of our visit is to conduct essential maintenance on the ship as well as to develop a good relationship with foreign Navies. Many of my Ship's Company are enjoying leave in South Africa and have flown out friends and family to join them in what is a wonderful country. The Ship has organised lots of activities such as safaris, rock climbing, parachute jumps and diving with sharks. The Ship's Company can all take part if they wish, although I don't think I will be diving with the sharks during this visit!

South Africa is the southernmost country of continental Africa. It has an area of 1,219,090 square kilometres, 5 times larger than the United Kingdom, and a population of 42½ million, three quarters of that of the UK. Simon's Town, where the ship is currently berthed, is a short drive from Cape Town. It lies on the eastern side of the peninsula and provides a safe natural harbour to the South African Navy. The port was used by the Royal Navy back in WWII as a place to keep our ships. This will be the first time that ENDURANCE has had a maintenance period outside the UK and we are delighted to be in this unique country working so closely with our friends in the South African Navy

Further up the coast is Cape Town which was established in 1652 and is South Africa's oldest and most famous city. It is overlooked and dominated by Table Mountain, which you can see in the picture. It is recognised as one of the most spectacular cities of the world. Many of the Ship's Company will be heading to Cape Town over the next few weeks to enjoy the shopping and nightlife that the city has to offer.

And so now you are up to date. ENDURANCE will be heading to the coast of West Africa during the month of August, returning to Antarctica later in the year. We will keep you updated with our activities over the next few months and may I take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes

Bob Tarrant

Commanding Officer

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