In pictures: Royal Navy icebreaker completes first Antarctic mission of the season

HMS Protector is on a five-year mission in the Antarctic to support international research.

The Royal Navy's only Antarctic research ship has completed her first Antarctic mission of the season – revealing the impact of global warming.

HMS Protector is on a five-year mission to support international research into wildlife, the changing climate and shifting waters of Antarctica.

The Plymouth-based icebreaker has three 'work periods' planned around the Antarctic Peninsula before autumn descends on the region and rules out her moving safely around numerous bases and through icy waters.

The mission, which covered the festive season and carried over into 2022, started with work around the South Sandwich Islands to support research into the penguin population.

From there, the ship moved deeper into the Antarctic to continue her mission in some of the most remote islands on the planet.

Naval charts of waters around islands like Southern Thule and the Cook Islands have not been updated in nearly a century – with the challenge made all the greater by unfavourable sea conditions and grounded icebergs.

This forced Protector to spend two days sheltering inside a caldera – the hollowed-out innards of a volcano.