HMS Protector is a Royal Navy ice patrol ship built in Norway in 2001. 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 outright by the British Ministry of Defence in September 2013.Service history
From April 2011, she was chartered to the Royal Navy for three years as a temporary replacement for the ice patrol ship, HMS Endurance, and was renamed HMS Protector. 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. 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.
She was commissioned into the Navy on 23 June 2011 as HMS Protector. The commissioning ceremony was held on the 50th anniversary of the date that the Antarctic Treaty came into force. During September 2011, Protector embarked on operational sea training in preparation for her first deployment in November.
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 large blaze. Two of the researchers died in the incident.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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.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.
James Caird IV is a 10.5m, 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. The boat was named by Alexandra Shackleton, the granddaughter of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, during the commissioning ceremony for Protector on 23 June 2011.Type:
Research ship & IcebreakerPennant Number:
23 June 2011 (Royal Navy)Displacement:
5,000 t (4,900 long tons; 5,500 short tons)Length:
LOA 89 m (292 ft 0 in),LBP 80.4 m (263 ft 9 in)Beam:
18 m (59 ft 1 in)Draft:
8.35 m (27 ft 5 in) (max), 7.3 m (23 ft 11 in) (as icebreaker)Ice class:
DNV ICE-05Installed power:
2 × Rolls-Royce Bergen BR-8, 2 x 3,535 kW (4,741 hp)Propulsion:
Rolls-Royce controllable-pitch propeller
Brunvoll bow thrusters (800+600 kW), stern thrusters (1125+990 kW) and retractable azimuth thruster (1500 kW)Speed:
15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)Boats and landing craft carried:
1 × Survey motor boat
1 × Rigid Work Boat
2 × Pacific 22 RIBsCrew Complement:
88 (accommodation for up to 100)Armament:
General purpose machine gunsAviation facilities: