HMS Protector is undergoing a major overhaul, including preparing the ship to carry unmanned survey devices say the Royal Navy.
“Given the unforgiving nature of the Antarctic environment, Protector undergoes maintenance every time she returns from the southern ocean. And every five years she is subjected to ‘deep maintenance’ – a particularly thorough revamp which will prepare the vessel for the long term, in this case until the middle of the decade.
So over the summer, shipwrights and engineers at UK Docks are working above and below the waterline, overhauling Protector from bow to stern, topmast to keel. Her 60-tonne crane – which has repeatedly proven its worth in loading/offloading supplies and equipment in remote locations with no port facilities – and flight deck have already been removed for major servicing and, with the dry dock emptied, extensive work is taking place on the hull; moving at four knots, the 5,000-tonne vessel can cut through ice half a metre thick.”
— HMS Protector (@hmsprotector) May 21, 2020
The Royal Navy add that once work on Teesside is complete, Protector’s ship’s company will undergo operational sea training before the ship deploys in the autumn in time for the height of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
Captain Michael Wood, the ship’s Commanding Officer, was quoted as saying:
“This refit marks the start of our long journey back to Antarctica. It will take real determination, and teamwork, to get there. However, I am certain we can make it happen.”
— HMS Protector (@hmsprotector) May 19, 2020
HMS Protector started life as MV Polarbjørn, she originally 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 Ministry of Defence in early September 2013.