Life in the Royal Navy is often very challenging, even in peacetime. Our talk this month was given by Rodney Browne who, after two tours to Antarctic waters in HMS Endurance, commanded his own survey ship, HMS Herald, for two winter tours to the Falkland Islands and Antarctica shortly after the Falklands war.
The Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are mountainous, extremely cold and windy and yet teaming with wildlife. Rodney’s photographs showed just how dramatic the landscape is, with pictures of icebergs, rugged cliffs, and snow-covered hills together with close-up photos of sea lions, penguins, hawks and, of course, sheep.
The Antarctic is 95% ice covered and temperatures as low as -88°C have been recorded. When surveying in winter, safety is paramount. The weather can change dramatically in a very short space of time and the environment is harsh and unpredictable. The wildlife, if a little unsociable, is perfectly adapted to this environment. Seals, however, have foul smelling breath and the pungent odour of a penguin rookery can be smelt 3 miles away.
Mountains, Ice, and perilous conditions
Our talk included stories of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s attempted expedition to the South Pole, sledding 1740 miles in perilous conditions, before years later being trapped in ice on board the Endurance and sailing to South Georgia before climbing a 9,000ft mountain ridge to seek the help of a whaling station.
Ray Hurle thanked Rodney for giving members a fascinating insight into the life of a naval officer and demonstrating how flexible and innovative one must be when commanding a vessel. The subject for our October meeting is “Help for Heroes”.
Tavistock Probus Club is pleased to welcome new members. If you would like to join us, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.