Shackleton relative sets the navy an icy goal

A relative of one of the world’s greatest explorers believes there’s no reason why the Irish navy cannot, at some stage in the future, mount an expedition to the Antarctic.

Jonathan Shackleton, second cousin of the famed explorer Ernest Shackleton, made his comments as he watched the navy’s 25 newest recruits passing out at their Haulbowline base in Co Cork yesterday.

The navy named the recruit class after the Kildare-born explorer in honour of his expeditions to Antarctica.

Jonathan, acting as a historian and guide, has accompanied 30 groups on expeditions to the Antarctic in the past 15 years, including a group of Irish students in 2001.

He has also visited Ernest Shackleton’s grave on South Georgia, near the Falkland Islands, and acted as consultant to Ranulph Fiennes for his recent biography Captain Scott.

He pointed out that Ernest Shackleton visited Haulbowline on a merchant ship in 1894. “So I’m not the first Shackleton to set foot here. Back then of course it was named Queenstown,” he said.

A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, he said it “was a wonderful honour” to have been invited to the ceremony and have the recruit class named after his esteemed relative.

The Officer Commanding Naval Operations Command, Captain Hugh Tully, who took the salute from the recruits, said they should emulate Ernest Shackleton’s attributes.

“Here was a man, through a spirit of endeavour, enhanced mankind’s knowledge of the natural environment and the planet we inhabit. His skill, bravery, and leadership saw his team and fellow explorers through some of the most inhospitable and forbidding circumstances known to man,” Capt Tully said.

The recruits completed 18 weeks of training, including seamanship, basic sea survival, naval boarding, foot drill, weapons handling, and first aid. In addition they also completed damage control and fire-fighting courses.

They will now have a choice of continuing their careers in the seamanship or engineering branches of the Naval Service.

The best recruit award went to Aaron Kennedy from Cobh, Co Cork. Alan Murray, Churchfield, Cork, got the award for best kit and Adam Murphy, Bandon, Co Cork, for best shot.


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