Ice patrol ship HMS Protector is back at sea after a £14m refit.

The Royal Navy say that HMS Protector left Teesside after the biggest and longest overhaul during her ten-year career under the White Ensign.

“The work carried out by UK Docks and the ship’s company since last March will mean the ship – unique in the Royal Navy’s Fleet – is better at breaking ice, can carry more equipment and supplies to support British and international scientists researching the frozen continent, and has improved facilities for the crew. T

he ship spent five months out of the water and was originally due to emerge from refit in the autumn, before heading south to update maritime charts of Antarctic waters using her hi-tech suite of sensors, as well as conducting scientific research alongside civilian experts. The pandemic – and the rules and limitations it prompted – “added layers of complication that could not possibly have been anticipated” from working routines and habits.”

As well as the usual refit work overhauling engines, generators, re-covering the distinctive red/white hull with specialised paint by hand and removing the propeller shaft for inspection in Denmark before reinstalling it – the revamp has created better cargo space, a new quarter deck structure with a naval stores complex, workshop to maintain the upgraded small boats and launches Protector carries, and there’s a new gym packed with £50,000 of the latest fitness gear for the sailors and Royal Marines.

The vessel will return to the South Atlantic later this year.

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Not sexy in a fighty way but an excellent asset that is not being overlooked by the RN.


Were 2 survey and research ships to replace HMS Scott confirmed, or was it 1 definite with an ambition for another?

Have long thought that we need ice-breakers operating in The Arctic in the same manner as Protector does in The Antarctic given a resurgent Russia and the sea routes opening up.


I doubt it would ever happen, but perhaps a class based on the Canadian Harry DeWolf class of Arctic OPVs would make sense to replace Protector? They displace more than Protector, have lower crew requirements and have superior aviation facilities. In my eyes their underlying OPV design would make them a more versatile platform than the one they would be replacing. I am unsure how this would fit in with the Antarctic treaty, but as we saw in the Falklands with Endurance, painting a ship red does not negate its military potential.

David Flandry

UKDJ: These intrusive adds are very distracting.

George Allison

We do this in our free time, we need to pay to host the website somehow David. If you’d rather donate then by all means.


Hi Dave, I keep getting adverts for blue pills…how did they know!!! 🙂

David Flandry

Why not build a scaled-down RSS Attenborough? It has a crew of only 30; add 30 to that for military functions, and you still have very nice, modern Antarctic patrol ship in compliance with treaty requirements.