Navy officer from Dudley describes visit to remote Antarctic islands

Video Credit: Belina Alker

A Royal Navy officer from Dudley has become one of only a handful of people to explore a collection of remote Antarctic islands.

Lieutenant Commander Dave Pitt, 46, and his shipmates were able to spend the night on the remote Pitt Islands, located 950 miles from the Falkland Islands.

In an interview with ITV News Central from aboard the HMS Protector, Lt Cdr Pitt has described what it is like to explore Antarctica.

He said: "I never expected it at all literally until about 2 or 3 weeks before joining the ship, I still couldn’t believe I was going there.

Lieutenant Commander Dave Pitt is from Dudley Credit: Royal Navy

"It's not a place I'd ever had the pleasure of visiting, especially when I lived in up in Dudley.

"I spent most of my time in the submarines which is totally different, you don’t see a lot in regards to areas like the Antarctic, so yeah it's been unbelievable.

"It's difficult to put into words really, and even taking photographs and taking them home to show them family and friends, still doesn’t really do it justice.

"It's just so big and the mountains look like you’re looking at Everest, it's like being on another planet"

The Pitt Islands archipelago is named after former Prime Minister William Pitt, with the individual islands named after characters in Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers.

They were discovered nearly 200 years ago by a British expedition, and are scattered across an area of the Antarctic ocean, about twice the size of Norwich.

Lt Cdr Pitt, who shares his last name with the archipelago, described what kind of wildlife they've been seeing during their expedition.

He said: "As soon as you get anywhere near the Antarctic Peninsula you start seeing an amazing amount of wildlife.

"So we regularly see whales coming up to the surface, there are also penguins everywhere.

"Loads of different types, mainly Gentoo, there are just thousands and thousands of them and not only swimming in the sea like bullets, but they’re very funny just walking around on land.

"We obviously respect them and stay away from them but they do walk towards you and just fumble past and don't seem to be phased.

"The big elephant seals are too busy to be, they're enjoying their summer!" 

However, Lt Cdr Pitt also explained that although it is summer in the Antarctic, the temperatures remain freezing.

He said: "We’ve been fairly lucky with the weather, we operate out of the Falklands and we change the crew there.

"We also use that stop to pick up food, then we cross a stretch of sea which can be fairly rough but we’ve been fairly lucky.

"Some days, it's just like glass and hardly ripples, but then other days it changes instantly and it can take you by surprise.

"The temperatures there are constantly below freezing and the wind chill takes it down even further.

"So, when the ship's company is operating on these islands or, on the boats off of the ship, we have great equipment.

"But over time just being exposed does take its toll at times, so we have to make sure we are looking after the crew the whole time.

"You just have to keep your wits about you."

Despite being ten thousand miles from home, Lt Cdr Pitt says he is very proud to come from Dudley and he's even still got a Black Country accent.