Having uncovered the secrets of a patch of the Atlantic the size of Spain, HMS Scott has returned to Plymouth after 12 months away.

In her year away from the home, the survey ship – named after the legendary Antarctic explorer – has hoovered up data from more than 500,000 square kilometres of the North Atlantic as her sonar scanned the ocean to depths of thousands of metres.

The fifth largest vessel in the Fleet, HMS Scott is also the largest survey vessel in Western Europe. Technically she is an ocean survey vessel designed to carry the modern high resolution multi beam sonar. This swathe echo sounder is capable of collecting depth information over a strip of sea several kilometres wide.

HMS Scott is the fifth ship assigned to the A&P Falmouth Cluster Group. In late 2018 the A&P Group won part of the MOD Future In Service Support (FISS) ten year contract worth £239m to repair five ships in the Cluster group.

The ship is named after Robert Falcon Scott, a Royal Naval officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions: the Discovery expedition of 1901–1904 and the ill-fated Terra Nova expedition of 1910–1913 which claimed the life of Scott and four colleagues.

Scott’s expedition ship the Royal Research Ship Discovery arrived at Falmouth on September 29th, 1927 after a successful two year long expedition to the Antarctic which at the time was hailed as the “greatest scientific expedition ever to leave UK waters.”

The information HMS Scott has gathered on her last deployment will be analysed by the UK Hydrographic Office, allowing them to update charts to the latest and highest standards.

The ship – which celebrated 26 years in the Royal Navy at the end of last month – has enjoyed the most productive period in her career.

Since she left home in July 2022 she’s travelled 45,000 miles, surveyed an area of the sea floor equivalent to the size of Spain – or twice that of the UK. Her efforts have earned her Surface Flotilla Excellence Award and Efficiency Pennant for two years in succession.

“Operating at thousands of miles from help, my crew have pulled together and shown remarkable resilience and determination to overcome many challenges, and maximise our operational capability to deliver record-breaking results,” said Scott’s proud Commanding Officer Commander Tom Harrison. “Each crew member can be hugely proud of their achievements.

Although the ship herself has been away from the UK for a year, her crew regularly change, while Scott undergoes regular maintenance in overseas ports, such as Gibraltar.

The model – which mirrors that used by the five offshore patrol ships deployed around the globe – allows Scott to remain at sea for longer, spending more time surveying and less time ‘getting there’.

It’s also allowed for some memorable port visits for the crew including Tenerife, Brazil, St Lucia and most recently New York and Portsmouth (the one in New Hampshire).

Those visits have allowed the crew to train and work with some of the UK’s allies, demonstrate what the Royal Navy in general – and HMS Scott herself specifically – can do, and generally fly the flag for the country.

In particular, sailors welcomed more than 10,000 New Yorkers aboard when the ship visited the Big Apple for the city’s annual Fleet Week event, parading through the heart of Manhattan, and enjoying privileged access to some top venues.

Scott will now undergo some maintenance in her home base over the summer before returning to the Atlantic later this year for further survey work and another year of data gathering ahead of her life extension package in 2024. Only 10 per cent of the oceans have been surveyed so far using advanced sonar equipment!