Burns Seamount approved by Hydrographical Office

Seamount named in tribute to Sean Burns by Ascension Government

Burns Seamount: Ascension Island Tribute to Former Tristan Administrator

On 30th November 2023 the Ascension Island Government was pleased to announce the official naming of a newly discovered seamount as "Burns Seamount." This significant geological discovery was made on 13th November 2022, by the RRS Discovery while navigating the northeast of the Ascension's Marine Protected Area (MPA) en route to the Island.

The seamount, initially detected by the ship's multibeam sonar, extends 1,321 meters above the seafloor and spans over 10 kilometers in each direction. This unexplored territory presents an exciting opportunity for biodiversity research, with the potential to discover species previously unknown to science.

Image of Burns Seamount (Ascension Island Government)

This naming, which was approved by the International Hydrographic Office, honours the late Sean Burns. Sean notably served as the Ascension Island Government Administrator from 2020 to 2022, three times as Administrator in Tristan da Cunha and as the Head of Governor's Office in St Helena. Sean's contribution, dedication and service to our island communities is fondly remembered and greatly appreciated. The decision to name the seamount in Sean's memory was made in May this year, in consultation with the Ascension Island community, and has the support of his family.

Welcoming the announcement, His Excellency Governor Nigel Phillips CBE noted: “It is fitting that navigational charts will now provide a permanent record of Sean's contribution to the governance of the South Atlantic Islands that form this Overseas Territory.”

Photo shows Sean Burns with his wife Marina, as he was sworn in as Administrator of Ascension Island
by Governor Philip Rushbrook in a ceremony in Georgetown Court House on 15th March 2020.
(Ascension Island Government)

Sean became the 25th Ascension Island Administrator to take office having previously served as Administrator of Tristan da Cunha twice, as well as Head of the Governor's Office on St Helena.

On his appointment, Sean said:

I am proud and privileged to have been appointed by the Governor to be the Administrator of Ascension and look forward to working with everyone for the benefit of all on the island. Marina and I are delighted to be here and are excited to meet with everyone as we settle in.

Tragic death during third term as Tristan da Cunha Administrator

The Tristan da Cunha Community and many overseas were shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Administrator Sean Burns on 16th March 2023, aged 62. Sean suffered a stroke whilst working in the Tristan Settlement on 9th March and was admitted to Camogli Healthcare Centre. In answer to an emergency call to vessels in the area, a German research vessel, the RV Meteor answered the SOS and arrived at Tristan on 14th March. Sean was transferred to the vessel, joined by his wife Marina and by Dr Alex Wonner and his wife Sally. Tragically, Sean passed away on the second day of the voyage to Cape Town.

Sean served as Tristan da Cunha Administrator for a record three terms: 2010-2013; 2016-2020 and 2022-2023.