Sea vessels

HMS Protector honours legendary Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton

The explorer sailed across 800 miles of ocean in a small boat, crossing the mountains of South Georgia to rescue his expedition party.

Sailors from HMS Protector have paid tribute to legendary Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton who is buried in South Georgia.

The crew of the Royal Navy icebreaker held a memorial service at his graveside on the island during their latest stop as Protector heads to the frozen continent for a summer of scientific research.

Although Sir Ernest never reached the South Pole, the Royal Navy reservist was highly regarded among his contemporaries as someone who could get his men out of a fix – notably his successful effort to save his colleagues when their ship Endurance was crushed by the ice in 1915.

Sir Ernest sailed across 800 miles of ocean in a small boat, then crossed the mountains of South Georgia to raise the alarm at a whaling station, ultimately leading to the rescue of his expedition party.

He died after suffering a heart attack aboard his ship Quest at the beginning of an expedition to circumnavigate Antarctica in January 1922.

HMS Protector's sailors gathered at Grytviken cemetery for a service of remembrance celebrating Sir Ernest Shackleton's achievements.

They dressed in woollen sweaters in keeping with early 20th Century polar explorers. 

Commander Thomas Boeckx, Protector's Executive Officer, said: "The stories of his expeditions and the epic 800-mile journey he and his companions made from Elephant Island to South Georgia to find help, demonstrate his courage, leadership and commitment to look after those in his care."