Antarctic patrol vessel HMS Protector has completed her brief survey mission in the unusually temperate climate of the British Indian Ocean Territory.

The vessel was supporting the UK Hydrographic Office to ensure admiralty charts are up to date for the safety of allied shipping in the waters around Diego Garcia.

Over the course of the fortnight the ship has used its specialist hydrographic vessels and sensors to accurately chart a large section of the main harbour of the archipelago north west of the airport. This should ensure safe passage for vessels making their final approaches to the island’s main wharf facilities. The islands serve as a strategic base for the region and regularly host visiting warships as well as several prepositioned American auxiliaries.

While in the territory the ship’s crew also took the opportunity to do their bit for the local environment, undertaking clean up tasks on several beaches that had been impacted by ocean waste. Their downtime was not all as successful however. The ship’s football team forfeiting a two-goal lead to lose to the locals 5-2 in a friendly football match.

HMS Protector will remain forward deployed in the Southern Hemisphere until 2020 as part of her five-year commitment. Her deployment has so far seen her operate in the South Atlantic, Southern, Indian and Pacific Oceans. She is currently spending the Antarctic winter catching up on maintenance and fulfilling support taskings such as these before returning south to represent British interests in Antarctica with the start of the spring season.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mark Forsyth
3 years ago

Interesting article, and although not a sailor, I have often heard people talk about using “Admiralty” charts. This leads me to ask the following questions:
1. Who else besides UK, surveys such a large area of the planet.
2. Which other countries provide charts, based on their surveys for sailors (other than their own military) at sea.
3. Does the UK Government make any money fro providing the charts

David E Flandry
David E Flandry
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Forsyth

The UK sells charts and maps for most areas of the world, so the UK government makes some money. The US surveys as much as the UK, Russia used to, China is trying to get started, France does a good part of the world. The Netherlands used to have a Royal Hydrographer, but gave up most of their small survey fleet.
Most countries either survey their own waters or pay someone to do it, except for very small nations like Tonga or the Seychilles. The UK surveys a lot of small Commonwealth countries.

Mark Forsyth
3 years ago

Thanks David

Arthur Stopps
Arthur Stopps
3 years ago

I was on HMS Vidal in 1971 . We surveyed in the Persian gulf from Bahrain and Dubai for the bigger tankers going round Africa as the Suez Canal was blocked . After that we did some surveying from Maher in the Seychelles . I heard that a boat had hit a reef there but I don’t know if that is true. We had to return to the U.K. via Cape Town.


[…] a vital income stream. In some territories more overt strategic interests may also be at threat; HMS Protector conducted the same role in the British Indian Ocean Territory just last year, helping clear debris to ensure the ongoing viability of the Diego Garcia […]