The icebreakers – operated by the Royal Navy and the British Antarctic Survey – met up as each undergoes preparations before heading for the Antarctic.

According to the Royal Navy here, Protector has just emerged from the most extensive overhaul in her decade’s service with the Royal Navy. Additionally, the Royal Research Ship (RRS) Sir David Attenborough (which the public famously wanted to call Boaty McBoatface in a national poll to pick her name) is undergoing extensive sea trials around the UK before she debuts in the Southern Hemisphere in time for the austral summer at the end of 2021.

“Despite heavy February showers and less-than-clement conditions, the two distinctive icebreakers – both feature striking red, white and gold paint schemes – manoeuvred in close proximity, allowing them to work together for the first time – and for the ship’s companies to take a close look at the respective ships.

Both ships are expected to work together extensively in Antarctic waters. Protector maps the ocean to update Admiralty Charts for fellow seagoers, delivers supplies to remote BAS bases and supports international research, chiefly around the Antarctic Peninsula.

RRS Sir David Attenborough carries 60 scientists in addition to 30 crew and performs many of similar roles, including logistics support. She also carries numerous autonomous craft to gather data from Antarctic waters, including one named Boaty McBoatface.”

The Royal Navy also say that after spending the summer around the UK, Protector is earmarked to deploy to Antarctica in the autumn, ready to work through the austral summer.

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Not the prettiest of ships in the world, but strikingly impressive looking with their bright red hulls.

They certainly represent a welcome commitment to an important region not just from a potential resources prespective but also from a climate emergency perspective. It seems Antarctica is increasingly becoming the canary in the mine in that context. As for any resources – I kinda hope they stay where they are for a long time to come…

Cheers CR


Yes not the prettiest ships indeed, but functional none the less.

Our (Australia) new Antarctic research and resupply icebreaker has recently undergone sea trials in the North Sea and should arrive here in Oz by mid year.

She’s a big girl, 160m and 25,500t displacement, be interesting to know if the UK ships and our new ship might meet up in the future from time to time.


Chris Jones

A fine looking ship you have there Australia!


Hi JohnN,

It would certainly be nice to see the three of them together, but unlikely I would say. Perhaps one of the UK vessels and RSV Nuyina together especially if they were working on something meaningful, rather than just a photo op. Although, I’d settle for the latter 🙂

Cheers CR


It’s boaty Mc boat face and I don’t care what HMG say, we voted for it and that’s it’s name.


Never ever let the British public vote for things like names of ships….sense of humour vs minor element of national interest/pride can sometime be culturally challenging for us in a way that’s really seen so much in countries like the US or Russia ( well most other nations to be honest).


Not the only thing you should never let the British public vote on!


What I’m going to have for dinner being one of those.


What’s the other?


I wonder how the captain of RRS Sir David Attenborough feels every time he/she has to order the launch of Boaty Mc Boatface and sound professional whilst doing so.


I bet he thanks his lucky stars he isn’t on the bridge of the RRS Boaty McBoatface! 🙂

David Flandry

The RN should build a scaled down version of RSS Attenborough after Protector is eventually scrapped. Larger, more modern better habitability. Just add crew for sensors, signals, the few token guns etc., and flight crew for an ASW helicopter. I estimate another 30-40 crew plus whatever the flight crew would be(15-20). Total complement would be around 60-70 plus air crew, so about 75-90.