HMS Protector saves MS Fram cruise ship in Antarctic

image captionMS Fram became surrounded by fast moving ice in Antarctic Sound

The crew of the Royal Navy's Portsmouth-based ice patrol vessel has rescued a cruise ship threatened by Antarctic ice.

HMS Protector broke through thick ice to free Norwegian cruise liner MS Fram when it became surrounded by fast moving floes in Antarctic Sound.

No-one was hurt during the operation which took two hours.

Captain Peter Sparkes said HMS Protector was "the Royal Navy's equivalent of a Swiss army knife".

Working at a speed of two knots, HMS Protector broke the four-metre thick ice, which had trapped the cruise ship's bow, in two hours.

Capt Sparkes said: "Protector's ship's company are highly trained and well equipped to deal with a spectrum of operations in Antarctica."

The area is prone to changes in winds and local currents, and ships can quickly become trapped, sometimes for weeks, when the concentration of pack ice increases.

MS Fram, which is purpose-built for sailing in polar waters was on a tour of the Antarctic Peninsula when the incident happened on 15 January.

HMS Protector is continuing with patrol of the British Antarctic Territory, supporting an international inspection team surveying environmentally sensitive sites around the peninsula.

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