Christmas comes early for Royal Navy ship HMS Protector

HMS Protector crew
Image caption The crew enjoyed Christmas dinner on ice

The crew of the Royal Navy ship HMS Protector has celebrated Christmas early on the ice of Antarctica.

The ship is currently in the area to carry out survey and patrol operations and will be at sea on 25 December.

The crew marked their special day by playing football and then enjoying a roast turkey dinner.

Commanding Officer, Captain Rhett Hatcher, said: "Spending Christmas in the coldest place on earth comes with challenges but is a unique privilege."

Image caption HMS Protector left Portsmouth in October

He added: "With 21 hours of daylight we need to remind ourselves to take a break from operations, but when we do so we know that despite being a very long way from our families and friends at home, we are proud to be on patrol for the Royal Navy and in the best possible company over Christmas."

Image caption This football match managed to go ahead despite the icy conditions

HMS Protector, a 5,000-tonne ice patrol ship, reached the Antarctic Peninsula via Cape Verde, Rio de Janeiro and South Georgia.

During its posting, it is conducting research on behalf of the UK Hydrographic Office and also providing logistical support to the British Antarctic Survey organisation.

The British Antarctic Territory is the UK's largest overseas territory.