HMS Protector (A173)

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Royal Navy Antarctic Patrol Ship HMS Protector MOD 45153156.jpg
HMS Protector in 2011
NamesakePolar bear
OwnerGC Rieber Shipping,[3] Bergen, Norway
Yard number076[2]
Laid down30 September 2000[2]
Launched21 July 2001[2]
Completed22 October 2001[2]
United Kingdom
NameHMS Protector
OperatorRoyal Navy
In service2011
HomeportHMNB Devonport
StatusIn active service, as of 2019
General characteristics [2]
TypeResearch ship & Icebreaker
Displacement5,000 t (4,900 long tons; 5,500 short tons)[4]
  • LOA 89 m (292 ft 0 in)
  • LBP 80.4 m (263 ft 9 in)
Beam18 m (59 ft 1 in)
  • 8.35 m (27 ft 5 in) (max)
  • 7.3 m (23 ft 11 in) (as icebreaker)
Ice classDNV ICE-05
Installed power2 × Rolls-Royce Bergen BR-8, 2 x 3,535 kW (4,741 hp)[5]
Speed15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Boats & landing
craft carried
Complement88 (accommodation for up to 100)
Aviation facilitiesHelicopter deck

HMS Protector is a Royal Navy ice patrol ship built in Norway in mid 2000. As MV Polarbjørn (Norwegian: polar bear) she operated under charter as a polar research icebreaker and a subsea support vessel. In 2011, she was chartered as a temporary replacement for the ice patrol ship HMS Endurance and was purchased by the British Ministry of Defence in early September 2013.

Service history (Norway)

Polarbjørn was designed and built for long Antarctic expeditions and for supporting subsea work.[7] Polarbjørn was equipped to DP2 class[7] and had accommodation for 100. Large cargo holds and open deck areas provide storage capacity for ROVs and related equipment. A 50-ton knuckle-boom crane and the 25-ton stern A-frame allow equipment to be deployed over the side and over the stern.

Polarbjørn worked in the "spot" market, on short-term charter. During 2009, the vessel was chartered for electromagnetic survey work in the North Sea, Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea.[8][9] She was exposed to a downturn in business during 2010, with only a 33% utilisation.[10]

Prior to the Royal Navy charter, she underwent a ten-day refit in Odense, Denmark. The helicopter deck, originally above her bridge, was repositioned over the stern and a multibeam echosounder for survey work was installed. Her engines and gearboxes were overhauled and she was modified to allow the carriage of the ancillary vessels and vehicles (survey boats, all-terrain vehicles) used in support of the British Antarctic Survey.[11]

Service history (Royal Navy)

Protector inbound to HMNB Portsmouth on 23 May 2011 with naval crew lining the deck

From April 2011, she was chartered to the Royal Navy[7] for three years as a temporary replacement for the ice patrol ship, HMS Endurance, and was renamed HMS Protector.[12][13] The annual cost of the charter was £8.7m. In September 2013 the British Ministry of Defence purchased the ship outright from GC Rieber Shipping, for £51 million.[14] In October 2013 the Ministry of Defence announced that from 1 April 2014 the ship's homeport would change from HMNB Portsmouth to HMNB Devonport, the location of the Hydrography and Meteorology Centre of Specialisation and where the Royal Navy's other survey ships are based.[15]

She was commissioned into the Navy on 23 June 2011 as HMS Protector.[16] The commissioning ceremony was held on the 50th anniversary of the date that the Antarctic Treaty came into force.[17] During September 2011, Protector embarked on operational sea training in preparation for her first deployment in November.[18]

In February 2012, after receiving a distress call from Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station on King George Island in the South Shetland Islands, Protector sailed to provide assistance to the Brazilian research station after a large fire had broken out there. 23 of her sailors were put ashore with fire-fighting equipment to tackle the blaze. Two of the researchers died in the incident.[19]

On her first Antarctic deployment, March 2012

During March and April 2012, the ship operated in the vicinity of Rothera Research Station. During a major visit, she delivered around 170 cubic metres of aviation fuel. At 67° 34′ S, this was the most southerly visit of her career up to that date, nearly 800 miles (1,300 km) from Cape Horn, the southernmost tip of the South America.[20] The crew competed in a 'winter Olympics' with scientists from the British Antarctic Survey.

On the way to her second Antarctic deployment, in October 2012 Protector surveyed the wreck of the Dale-class oiler RFA Darkdale in James Bay, Saint Helena, as part of an assessment of its possible threat to the island's environment.[21] On arriving in Antarctica in December, her designated Antarctic Treaty Observers supported an international team carrying out inspections of research stations to ensure compliance with the Antarctic Treaty.[22]

The ship left for her third Antarctic deployment in October 2013. She revisited Rothera and then sailed across Marguerite Bay, reaching a latitude of 68° 12′ S, 850 miles (1,370 km) from Cape Horn.[23]

In the northern summer of 2014, the ship visited the Caribbean to perform training for humanitarian assistance, and also assisted some community projects in the British Virgin Islands.[24]

In late 2015, Protector commenced a 20-month deployment to the Ross Sea for fisheries patrol and hydrographic survey operations.[25] It is the first time that a Royal Navy or British Government vessel has operated in the waters south of Australia and New Zealand since 1936.[25][26] In addition to the ship's usual equipment, three unmanned aerial vehicles (designed and 3D printed by the University of Southampton) were embarked.[25] Sailing from Devonport, Protector visited the Seychelles and Diego Garcia en route (in the latter instance, becoming the first Royal Navy surface ship to visit in eight years) before proceeding to Tasmania, Australia.[25][27] At the start of December, Protector departed from Hobart, Tasmania to commence fisheries patrols.[26] In January 2016, the ship completed a five-week patrol of the Ross Sea conducting inspections in support of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, with the aid of six embarked Australian and New Zealand specialists. The ship visited Zucchelli Station and reached a latitude of 77° 56′ S. Crew members visited Scott's Hut at Cape Evans.[28] Protector circled the globe, covering more than 18,500 nautical miles, in 2016.[29]

In November 2017, following a request for assistance from the Argentine government, Protector was redeployed to aid international efforts to locate the missing submarine ARA San Juan.[30]

Embarked equipment

Protector operates several small boats, including the survey motor boat James Caird IV, the ramped work boat Terra Nova and two Pacific 22 RIBs Nimrod and Aurora. She also embarks three BV206 all-terrain vehicles and a number of quad-bikes and trailers for activities on Antarctica, such as moving stores and equipment.[6]

James Caird IV is a 10.5-metre (34 ft), ice-capable survey motor boat built by Mustang Marine in Pembroke Dockyard, based on a design of existing British Antarctic Survey boats. It has a crew of five, plus up to five passengers.[31] The boat was named by Alexandra Shackleton, the granddaughter of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, during the commissioning ceremony for Protector on 23 June 2011.[17] The boat's name commemorates the voyage of the James Caird made by Shackleton in 1916.

HMS Protector in Antarctica, December 2013

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Polarbjørn". VesselTracker. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 "Protector (22866)". DNV GL Vessel Register. Det Norske Veritas.
  3. "Ice / Support". GC Rieber Shipping. Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  4. "Ice Patrol and Survey Flotilla". Royal Navy. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Polar Research/Subsea Support M/V Polarbjørn" (PDF). Multi Maritime AS. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Bush, Steve (2014). British Warships and Auxiliaries. Maritime Books. p. 31. ISBN 978-1904459552.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "HMS Protector". GC Rieber Shipping. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  8. "GC Rieber subsea ship orders mark "acceptance"". Scandinavian Oil-Gas Online. 16 January 2009. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  9. "PetroMarker electromagnetic (EM) campaign". Discover Petroleum. 20 July 2009. Archived from the original on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  10. "Fourth Quarter 2010 Presentation" (webcast). GC Rieber Shipping ASA. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  11. "HMS Protector ready". Think Defence. 26 May 2011. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  12. "HMS Protector will be Endurance replacement". The News. 7 January 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  13. "Replacement for HMS Endurance announced". Ministry of Defence. 25 March 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
  14. de Larrinaga, Nicholas (26 September 2013). "UK purchases Arctic patrol vessel HMS Protector". IHS Jane's 360. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  15. Bannister, Sam (10 October 2013). "HMS Protector moved from Portsmouth to Devonport". The News. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  16. "HMS Protector". Royal Navy. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Nimmo, Joe (24 June 2011). "HMS Protector is welcomed into the fleet". The News. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  18. "Protector sails on her debut voyage to the ice". Royal Navy. 29 November 2011. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  19. "Protector sailors tackle killer blaze at Antarctic base". Navy News. 27 February 2012. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  20. UK Ministry of Defence (28 March 2012). "The Ship's Company of HMS Protector at Rothera, Antarctica". Flickr. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  21. "HMS Protector surveys wartime wreck". Maritime Journal. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  22. "HMS Protector Arrives in the Antarctic". Shipping Times. 16 December 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  23. "Royal Navy's HMS Protector Never Closer to South Pole". Subsea World News. 31 March 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  24. "Royal Navy disaster team sharpens skills". The News. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 "HMS Protector to assess fish stocks and update Ross Sea charts". MercoPress. 15 October 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Darby, Andrew (1 December 2015). "Call for action against renewed Japanese whaling as Royal Navy heads south". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  27. "What No Ice?". Royal Navy. 17 November 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  28. "Ice Patrol HMS Protector concludes historic five week patrol to East Antarctica and Ross Sea". MercoPress. 19 January 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  29. "Ice patrol ship circles globe". Royal Navy. 11 March 2016. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  30. "HMS Protector arrives in South Atlantic to join search efforts for missing Argentine submarine". Royal Navy. 19 November 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  31. "Mustang delivers SMB for Royal Navy". Maritime Journal. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2014.

External links

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