Santas have fun in Antarctica

Galloping across the ice, the crew of the navy’s Portsmouth-based icebreaker, HMS Protector, are clearly enjoying the festive spirit.

After breaking through ice for the first time, the ship’s company decided to dress up in Santa outfits and take to the frozen continent to raise cash in a charity run.

The crew were raising money for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice (EACH), the 5,000-tonne ice patrol ship’s affiliated charity.

The Santa run was held on ice in the waters surrounding Deception Island, a dormant, water-filled volcano.

HMS Protector smashed her way through a sheet of snow-covered ice before coming to a planned stop.

There, the ship’s company could test the ice conditions and drill ice core samples to make sure it was safe to walk on.

Then the eager Santas – and one reindeer – made their way down the ship’s accommodation ladder before heading out into the cold.

Under perfect weather conditions, and the watchful eye of two seals which had taken up watch from a post next to the ship, the Santas began their charity run.

Commander Don Mackinnon, the executive officer who is in command of the ship for this Antarctic patrol, gathered the crew together on the ice at 10am for a warm-up before they set off on their short run.

He said: ‘With 21 hours of daylight in every 24, our working day in Antarctica tends to be a long one.

‘Yesterday our first boat group departed the ship at 8.30am in the morning and the last one finally got back at 11pm 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.

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Source:, picture: LA(Phot) Arron Hoare.

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