HMS Enterprise sailed closer to the North Pole than any other Royal Navy ship this year after carrying out a deployment in the Arctic.
The Devonport-based ship headed into the region, sailing within 1,000 miles of the 'top of the world', to update charts and scientific understanding of the waters, which are increasingly patrolled by the Navy.
After specialist training, HMS Enterprise made for the Barents Sea off the northern coast of Norway.
After passing 66.56° North, the crew carried out a 'blue nose' ceremony – a traditional seafaring ceremony to signify a ship has sailed inside the Arctic.
Using specialist equipment, including single and multi-beam echo sounders, towed sensors and remot-operated vessels, the ship gathered hydrographic and oceanographic data which will benefit scientists, other seafarers and Royal Navy operations.
"Although these waters are challenging due to the environment, they are a haven for marine life, including orcas, sperm whales and puffins," said Sub Lieutenant Sophie Savage.
"After spending so much time in near constant daylight, the Northern Lights scattered across the sky were a welcome treat for the watch keepers."
The ship spent two months collecting information, pausing to cast a wreath into the water to pay tribute to the sailors who braved horrendous conditions to deliver supplies to the Soviet Union on convoy runs between 1941 and 1945.
After stopping in the Norwegian city of Tromsø to change crew and take on supplies, sailors took on various adventurous activities, including mountain climbing, running all 15 miles around the island on which the port sits and taking a dip in the Arctic waters.
Enterprise resumed her data-gathering operation first in the Norwegian Sea, then in the Denmark Strait (between Greenland and Iceland).
In the strait, personnel held a service of remembrance over the wreck of the battle-cruiser HMS Hood, lost in May 1941 at the hands of Hitler's flagship Bismarck – it saw 1,400 lives lost and sent shockwaves through the contemporary Royal Navy.
Enterprise conducted another crew change in Reykjavik, Iceland, before heading for Aberdeen.
Commander Malcolm McCallum, the survey ship's Commanding Officer, said of Enterprise's Arctic mission: "The whole operation has demonstrated that the Royal Navy retains the ability to sustain operations in the strategically important region of the High North."