The ultimate white Christmas: Welsh cook travels to Antarctica on the Sir David Attenborough ship

  • A deeper look at the RRS Sir David Attenborough (Credit: Rolls-Royce)

A cook from Wales will enjoy the ultimate white Christmas as he travels through Antarctica on the RRS Sir David Attenborough ship.

Steven Carpenter, from Caerphilly, is part of the team that will prepare a festive feast for around 45 crew members.

It's hoped the mission will support UK scientists who are conducting climate change research in the region.

The 49-year-old will have the task of cooking 4kg stuffing, 20kg roast potatoes, 300 sprouts, 10kg of Christmas pudding and 500 mince pies for the crew members.

The research vessel is owned by the Natural Environment Research Council and operated by the British Antarctic Survey.

Previously serving in the Gulf War, the former Royal Fleet Auxiliary seaman said: “We have everything we need for the Christmas Dinner and have even made sure we have plenty of Brussels sprouts, whether people like them or not.

“We have two freezers that are bigger than most peoples’ houses so we could stock up enough food to last two years.

“We don’t need to dream of a white Christmas because where we are at the moment, it is guaranteed.

“It’s likely Christmas Day will be a full-blown working day so the plan will be to hold a Fakemas dinner on a quieter day, where we get to enjoy turkey with all the trimmings and a Secret Santa. We’ll make a good day of it.”

But it's not the first time the Welsh cook has spent the holidays on a ship.

He explained: “There’s been times where I’ve worked in the Middle East on troop ships serving over 150 people, where I’ve gone into McDonalds for Christmas Dinner or gone to a curry house afterwards because there was no time to sit down and enjoy it – but this year we will.

The £200 million ship is part of a major UK Government polar infrastructure investment programme and will dock at Signy Island on Christmas Day.

Steve will have the task of cooking for 45 crew members including 20kg roast potatoes and 500 mince pies.

It will be Steve's first time exploring the South Pole, whilst being able to spend the special day with his partner, Eric, who is also serving aboard the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

He said: “We met 20 years ago and most years we are stuck on ships in different parts of the world so this Christmas has worked out for us very well.

“We’ll be able to exchange presents on the day. I remember once sending a Lindt chocolate bunny to a ship in Africa that sat on the quayside for two months so had well and truly melted. All that was left was the bell and ribbon by the time it got delivered.

“Our families are well used to us being away now. I do a regular Sunday call back to my folks without fail, no matter where I am in the world.”

Crowds gather to watch the ceremonial naming of the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

World famous naturalist Sir David Attenborough visited the vessel named in his honour as part of a send-off for crew in London before they departed on their seven-week journey to Antarctica.

“To have Sir David himself on board was fabulous. He is one sprightly guy. You just would not believe his age and you could tell he was utterly proud to be on board a ship that bears his name.”

Steve added: “Of all the places I’ve ever been, this is the most beautiful and you cannot take photos that do what we’re seeing justice.”

Minister for the Polar Regions, Amanda Milling said: “This magnificent ship is something everyone across the United Kingdom can take immense pride in. I’d like to wish everyone on board for its maiden voyage a Merry Christmas.

“The UK Government’s commitment to further investment in our Antarctic scientific infrastructure is putting British scientists at the forefront of polar research, as we lead the world on getting to grips with climate change.

“The UK’s presidency of COP26 in Glasgow last month, and our ongoing investment in science, demonstrates our determination to drive forward a greener future to save our planet.”