November 16, 2020 – Royal Navy patrol ship HMS Forth took advantage of spring in the Southern Hemisphere to pay her second visit to the ‘Gateway to Antarctica’.
The wildlife paradise of South Georgia is one the UK’s most remote and least populous overseas territories – 850 miles from Forth’s normal stomping ground of the Falklands.
The weather in the austral autumn and winter rules out visits by Forth – an even with the advent of spring the passage is hazardous.
Spare sailors were posted as ice lookouts, assisting the regular team on the bridge in keeping an all-round lookout for dangers in icy waters. Several large icebergs, ‘bergy bits’ and ‘growlers’ – smaller chunks of ice just above the waterline – were encountered.
Just in case the ship should run into a berg (she didn’t), Forth’s crew practiced dealing with floods, general damage control and machinery breakdowns.
For Operation Southern Sovereignty, the patrol vessel – one of five built for the Royal Navy for duties across the Seven Seas – hosted 18 military and civilian personnel from Mount Pleasant Complex, the hub of UK operations in the Falklands; Forth’s 50-bunk additional mess means she can embark far more passengers than her predecessor, HMS Clyde.
Also embarked was Helen Havercroft, Chief Executive Officer of the Government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, also embarked the ship to visit her administrative domain.
“Taking passage to South Georgia in HMS Forth has been a great experience,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed meeting the crew and feeling what life in a warship is like on a day-to-day basis. I hope they all enjoyed their visit and I would love to see them back in South Georgia sometime soon.”