In pictures: HMS Protector sails to top of the world

The Royal Navy's survey and research vessel came within 1,050 kilometres of the North Pole.

Icebreaker HMS Protector has reached deep into the Arctic Ocean, sailing closer to the North Pole than most Royal Navy ships have done before.

The survey and research vessel broke through the polar ice to come within 1,050km of the world's most northern point during an expedition to gather data on the ocean and its environment.

In recent years, only submarines like HMS Trenchant, which crunched through the North Pole's ice three years ago, have got further north in the Greenland Sea.

Following her most extensive overhaul to date, in January, Protector has carried out thorough training and trials with the aim of Antarctic deployment this autumn.

The ship tested her engines using a bollard pull in Flekkefjord, southern Norway.

She also broke ice in the Fram Strait, between Greenland and the Norwegian island chain of Svalbard, the Navy said.

Protector tested her capabilities against different ice depths and types, with the help of scientists, engineers and advisors, including those from the Ministry of Defence and the British Antarctic Survey.

The ship also conducted surveys of the sea bed – between 2,000 and 3,000m deep in the Fram Strait – and collected data about the North Atlantic currents, observed marine mammals, and helped the British Antarctic Survey with its work studying the polar ice cap.

After visiting Reykjavik, Protector will be returning to Plymouth having earned her 'ice credentials' and begin preparing for a return to the southern polar region in the autumn.

Cover image: Royal Navy.