From the Antarctic to the Big Apple – ice ship HMS Protector flies the flag in New York

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet Storyline: HMS Protector

HMS Protector flew the flag for Navy and nation in New York’s annual naval celebration.

The icebreaker, survey and polar research ship spent over a week in the Big Apple, joining American allies at the city’s Fleet Week – a mixture of celebration and commemoration of the US Navy, its men and women, their service and sacrifice.

Held for nearly 40 years – though postponed by the pandemic since 2019 – the event allows the US public to see their ships and meet their personnel – with the invitation frequently extended to the USA’s closest ally.

Protector is on a long-term deployment, spending the austral summer around Antarctica, and above the Equator when it’s summer in the northern hemisphere. In both halves of the globe, the mission is largely the same: to update maritime charts and collect scientific data about the oceans, wildlife and global warming.

The distinctive red-and-white scientific and research vessel was piped up the Hudson River by navigator Lieutenant Ben Flack and enjoyed a plum Midtown Manhattan berth for eight days.

The 34th iteration of Fleet Week – New York’s largest seafaring festival – was focused on ‘celebrating the sea services’, reminding the city’s nine million inhabitants that their nation’s security and prosperity depends on the US Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard… in which they are regularly supported by their Royal Navy allies.

Protector’s sailors and Royal Marines enjoyed the hospitality of the US Navy and US Coast Guard, were invited to the premiere of the Top Gun sequel, enjoyed Broadway shows and baseball games, attended official parades, visited museums and sampled New York’s legendary sights.


“It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip and event; an unbelievable couple of days in the city that never sleeps and memories I will never forget,” said Catering Services specialist Harry Martin, who works in Protector’s galley.

Marine engineer Petty Officer Paddy Shingleton added: “The visit to New York was a once-in-a-career opportunity for me having served 22 years in the Navy.”

In return for American hospitality, the ship opened her gangway to New Yorkers, welcoming thousands aboard, providing displays and stances explaining what the Plymouth-based ship and her ship’s company have achieved since leaving home ten months ago.

“This has been a fantastic opportunity for my ship’s company to see one of the world’s great cities after a busy Antarctic season,” said Protector’s Commanding Officer Captain Milly Ingham.

“We have been welcomed with open arms by the residents of the city and by our brothers and sisters in the US Navy, Marine Corps and Coastguard.

“The ship will visit northern polar waters for the second time in two years this summer and this visit has cemented the bonds of friendship between our Services in preparation for closer cooperation and integration in the High North.”

We have been welcomed with open arms by the residents of the city and by our brothers and sisters in the US Navy, Marine Corps and Coastguard.

Captain Milly Ingham