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Great Scott – veteran survey ship on course to finish record-breaking Atlantic mission

11 October 2021
Veteran survey ship HMS Scott is on for a record-breaking 2021 after mapping an area of the Atlantic seabed bigger than Britain.

The Devonport-based ship – the largest vessel in the Royal Navy’s hydrographic flotilla – has been away from home in the mid-Atlantic since June.

Scott is unique in the Royal Navy as a deep ocean survey vessel – it’s her task to hoover up details of the ocean floor using her High Resolution Multi Beam Sonar System to chart the seabed in hitherto unprecedented detail.

In her 24 years at sea, the ship has surveyed approximately 3.7 per cent of the world’s oceans alone – impressive when you consider that only one fifth of the world’s oceans have been surveyed to modern standards.

During the 2021 ‘military data gathering season’ she has surveyed 214,000 square kilometres of deep ocean floor – that’s larger than Belarus.

By the year’s end when she’s completed her Atlantic deployment, the ship plans to close in on the 300,000 square kilometre mark – that’s bigger than Britain (242,000) and almost as big as Italy or the Philippines, and the largest area surveyed in a single year by the Plymouth ship since she entered service 24 years ago.

“The success HMS Scott has enjoyed is testament to the hard work of every member of the ship’s company,” said her Commanding Officer Commander Tom Harrison.

“This truly has been a team effort – to sustain operations for prolonged periods takes sound planning, forward thinking, team cohesion and a determination to complete our mission.”

The data Scott has gathered on her latest patrols is passed to the UK Hydrographic Office in Taunton, so that the data can be exploited for safe navigation.
The ship can also act as a command ship for minehunters, conduct some limited ice patrol operations (she’s not an icebreaker unlike HMS Protector), can carry eight containers on her foredeck and has enough fuel and food to remain at sea for three months or more at a time.

The success HMS Scott has enjoyed is testament to the hard work of every member of the ship’s company.

Commander Tom Harrison

Scott has become the latest ship to adopt the forward deployed model – rotating the crew to sustain the ship on operations for longer, while giving the sailors more settled lives away from the ship.

It’s meant the Navy has squeezed an extra 20 days of survey work out of the ship over the summer.

The hard work has been rewarded with adventurous training activities including hiking, wakeboarding, golf and mountain biking around Gibraltar and Madeira. Having recently joined the ship AB(Sea) Sam Dewey said: “It’s great to finally travel after Covid, it was breath-taking to see the sunrise over the mountains of Madeira.”

The relatively warm climes the ship has been operating in has meant that despite patrols of six weeks or more, sporting activities have helped to maintain fitness and morale with the foredeck hosting games of rounders, quick cricket, bucket-ball, and a barbecue, while most crew took the plunge during a North Atlantic ‘hands to bathe’.

 “The six-week period at sea is a long time to be at sea on mission, but this crew is fantastic. We’ve enjoyed the many fun whole-ship team events whilst at sea,” said marine engineer Leading Engineering Technician Aaron Milne.

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