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Royal Navy's Antarctic survey ship Protector ready for deployment.

| 2021

According to information published by the Royal Navy on June 17, 2021, the Navy’s sole icebreaker is ready for cooler climes for the first time in more than two years after an intensive workout. HMS Protector has completed the road back to front-line operations following the most comprehensive revamp in her career.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Ice patrol ship HMS Protector (Picture source: Royal Navy)

The Devonport-based scientific and survey ship has come through five weeks of demanding training – training which, when successfully completed, means the Royal Navy ship is ready to deploy around the globe.

Protector returned to sea in January after a ten-month £14m overhaul on Teesside, since when she’s been testing the kit and systems refurbished, enhanced or added during the refit, and bonding her sailors and Royal Marines into a single team capable of living and working together in the harshest environment on Earth.

The five-week operational sea training package allowed the first full test of some of the improved systems aboard - vital communications equipment, engines and generators, and the new permanent storage facility, which allows the ship to carry more supplies for herself and other agencies and organizations who live and work around the frozen continent, such as the British Antarctic Survey.

The training reached its climax with a complex salvage, disaster relief and collision and grounding exercise – it’s entirely possible Protector may need to rescue a stranded or stricken vessel/crew.

HMS Protector is a Royal Navy ice patrol ship built in Norway in mid-2000. As MV Polarbjørn she operated under charter as a polar research icebreaker and a subsea support vessel.

HMS Protector calls the freezing waters of Antarctica and the Southern Hemisphere home and she is affectionately referred to as the Royal Navy’s "swiss army knife".

HMS Protector’s crew includes to a team of permanent divers, who undertake exploratory surveys and ensure that environmental guidelines are being upheld. This ice patroller is well-equipped with 2 cranes capable of lifting up to 60 tonnes of stores and equipment.

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