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Royal Navy celebrate Christmas on Antarctic ice caps

A Royal Navy crew has had its own early Christmas - on the ice caps of Antarctica.

The crew of HMS Protector, which is currently deployed to the Antarctic to carry out survey and patrol operations, held festive celebrations early as the ship will be at sea on Christmas Day.

Crew from HMS Protector Credit: LA(Phot) Vicki Benwell/MoD/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

As well as a roast turkey dinner in a real-life winter wonderland, the ship's company enjoyed a game of football.

Officer Captain Rhett Hatcher, said: "Spending Christmas in the coldest, windiest and driest place on earth comes with a number of challenges but it is a truly unique privilege."


Support for soldiers leaving the Armed Forces

The Ministry of Defence provides a number of services for people leaving the Armed Forces.

There are also many charities providing information and support to former soldiers. For example, the SSAFA provides a free telephone support line:

Question mark hangs over future Army redundancies

Today's round of redundancies will be the last "significant reduction" for the RAF, Navy and Marines, however further cuts are still possible in the Army. The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:

We still have someway to go to bring the size of the Army down to 82,000 and decisions on what isnecessary to achieve this are yet to be taken, but we won’t compromise themission in Afghanistan.

Army bears brunt of job losses

The Army has lost 2,900 soldiers as a result of today's round of redundancies. This was the maximum number expected after the redundancies were first announced in January.

170 jobs will be stripped from the Navy, which is less than the maximum figure of 300. The RAF has lost 730 jobs, also below the maximum figure of 900.

Overall, 3,800 redundancies were announced out of a possible 4,100.


Jobless soldiers thanked for service

The Chief of Defence Staff General Sir David Richards has thanked all of those who are losing their jobs in the Armed Forces. A statement said:

I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere thanks to those who will be leaving the Services for their contribution to our Armed Forces and to the nation’s security. Some of you may see redundancy as an opportunity. Others will see it as a significant challenge. Your chain of command will support you during the redundancy process, and I would encourage you to make full use of the comprehensive resettlement package as you make the transition to civilian life.

'Cuts mean British forces will be properly equipped'

The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has released this statement in the wake of 4,100 redundancies in the Armed Forces:

Of course I regret that it has been necessary to makeredundancies to deliver our plans for reducing the size of the Armed Forces. Weinherited a multi billion pound black hole in the defence budget which hadmeant the previous Government had not been able to afford to properly equip ourtroops with the kit they needed.

We’ve now brought the defence budget back into balance for the first time in a generation. We will have smaller Armed Forces but we will ensure they will have the protection and equipment they need.

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