Royal Navy sailors have arrived to help four women working at an isolated Antarctic science base after snow buried some buildings.
Claire Ballantyne, Miri Hilton, Natalie Corbett and Lucy Bruzzone Beat record number of applicants to become team tasked with managing historic Port Rockroy On Goudier Island – home to the most remote post office in the world.
The team, which shares the island with a colony of Gentoo penguins, has been establishing the base with the assistance of three other crew members, who will leave shortly before the Southern Hemisphere summer, when severe weather hits.
Some buildings were buried, while the roof of Bransfield Hut – home to the site’s museum, gift shop and post office – was damaged by two to four meters of heavy spring snow.
A team of sailors and Royal Marines from the Royal Navy ship HMS Protector moved several tonnes of snow and made makeshift repairs.
“At least the snow got rid of the smell”
Warrant Officer 1st Chief Lee “Rattler” Morgan said “going ashore to help” is a good thing for shipping companies.
He added: “The sailors were all smiles, delighted to have completed such a worthy task.
“I was blown away by the amount of snow and the way the buildings had all but disappeared.
“When I left here earlier this year, the penguins were lying on bare rocks and messy ground – at least the snow took the smell away.”
Engineering Technician Marine Engineer Jack Pierce said: “This is only my second ‘ashore’ in the Navy, having just finished training three weeks ago.
“It’s been amazing to be here, I’ve enjoyed the scenery and the wildlife, and it’s been a great feeling to be working with the British Antarctic Heritage Trust to make a difference.”
The four women are among 6,000 people who have expressed interest in running the site, having given up the comforts of home to live and work in areas without running water or flushing toilets.
The former whaling station, which has become a summer tourist attraction for some 20,000 people, is home to the world’s most remote post office, which processes some 80,000 cards a year to more than 100 countries.
Another job of the team overseeing the station is to count the penguins on the island.
HMS Protector is the Royal Navy’s ice patrol ship that regularly visits international bases on the frozen continent to deliver supplies, support scientific research and conduct her own work.