A Royal Navy engineer from Wirral will be the only woman on a team of adventurers embarking on the journey of a lifetime that will test their grit and determination as they follow in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Departing in mid-January, eleven personnel from the Royal Navy and Marines will undertake a six-week expedition to the Antarctic and South Georgia – a century after Shackleton’s extraordinary recovery from the "Endurance" expedition.

Wirral Globe:

The expedition group – and support team – training in Scotland with Emily on the left

On the mission is Royal Navy engineer Sub Lieutenant Emily Kutarski from Heswall, the only female on the team.

The 29-year-old, who was born in Hong Kong to a military family, now works as a marine engineering officer onboard a Type 45 destroyer.

She said: “By taking part in this expedition I will have achieved a long held ambition of visiting Antarctica, and walking in the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton.

“I’m looking forward to building on the new skills I’ve learned during the training and selection process and hope that my actions will inspire other girls to get out exploring.”

The aim of "Exercise Antarctic Endurance "is to inspire a new generation of sailors and marines to seek adventure but will also provide the Navy and Ministry of Defence with research into team dynamics and leadership.

The journey will begin and end in the Falklands having travelled through the Weddell Sea, landed on the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, and Elephant Island, before sending a team overland from King Haakon Bay to Stromness, in South Georgia – the same route travelled by Shackleton and his companions 100 years ago.

Sub/Lt Kutarski is at the start of her career having only been in the service for two years.

She moved to Heswall in 1997, and attended Birkenhead High School before going on to study aeronautical engineering at Imperial College in London, and then eventually joining the Navy.

Keen climber and triathlete Emily added: “While I may have no previous experience in the Antarctic I do have a passion for mountaineering.

"This started while undertaking a six-month solo backpacking trip in 2009 when I climbed several mountains and volcanoes in South East Asia and spent five weeks in Nepal trekking to both Annapurna and Everest Base Camps

“It seems my dad got jealous of my Antarctic ambitions so now he is going on a yacht based ski mountaineering expedition to Antarctica in 2016 as well.”


In 1914, Shackleton made his third trip to the Antarctic with the ship "Endurance" planning to cross Antarctica via the South Pole.

Early in 1915, Endurance became trapped in the ice, and ten months later sank.

Shackleton's crew had already abandoned the ship to live on the floating ice.

In April 1916, they set off in three small boats, eventually reaching Elephant Island.

Taking five crew members, Shackleton went to find help.

In a small boat, the six men spent 16 days crossing 1,300km of ocean to reach South Georgia and then trekked across the island to a whaling station.

The remaining men from the Endurance were rescued in August 1916.

Not one member of the expedition died. 'South', Shackleton's account of the expedition, was published in 1919.

Shackleton's fourth expedition aimed to circumnavigate the Antarctic continent but on January 5, 1922, Shackleton died of a heart attack off South Georgia.

He was buried on the island.