Royal Navy sailors have come to the aid of four women who have taken a job at an isolated Antarctic science base after heavy snow buried some of the buildings.
Clare Ballantyne, Mairi Hilton, Natalie Corbett and Lucy Bruzzone beat a record number of applicants to become the team responsible for managing the historic site of Port Lockroy on Goudier Island, home to the world’s most remote post office.
The team, which shares the island with a colony of gentoo penguins, were setting up their base, assisted by three other staff members who are due to depart shortly for the southern summer.
Some of the buildings were buried while the roof of Bransfield Hut – home to the site’s museum, gift shop and post office – was damaged after heavy spring snows two to four meters deep.
A team of sailors and Royal Marines from the Royal Navy ship HMS Protector cleared several tonnes of snow and carried out temporary repairs.
Marshal 1st Class Lee “Rattler” Morgan said: “It’s good for the ship’s company to come ashore and help out.
“The sailors were all smiles and happy to start such a worthwhile task.
“I was amazed at the sheer amount of snow and how the buildings had all but disappeared.
“When I left here earlier in the year, the penguins were lying on bare ground of rocks and dirt — at least the snow got the smell out.”
Engineering technician, Marine Engineer Jack Pearce, said: “This is only my second ‘shore run’ in the Navy after finishing training just three weeks ago.
“It’s great to be here, enjoyed the scenery and wildlife, but it’s also great to be making a difference by working with the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.”
The four women were among 6,000 people who have expressed interest in running the site, abandoning the comforts of home to live and work in the region without running water or flush toilets.
The former whaling station, which has become a tourist attraction visited by around 20,000 people during the summer season, is home to the world’s most remote post office, which handles around 80,000 postcards sent each year to more than 100 countries.
HMS Protector is the Royal Navy’s ice patrol vessel, making regular visits to international bases on the frozen continent, delivering supplies, supporting scientific research and conducting her own.