Royal Navy rents Norwegian ship to protect Falklands

The Ministry of Defence is spending £26 million renting a ship from Norway, it has confirmed.

The ice-breaker MV Polarbjorn, which is being renamed HMS Protector, will be commissioned into the Royal Navy fleet on June 23.

The ship’s duties will include patrolling the waters around the Falkland Islands and South Atlantic, and taking on the Navy’s Antarctic mission.

The MoD confirmed the initial three-year contract for loan of the ship was worth £26 million.

The ship has also undergone a refit involving the repositioning of the flight deck from the bridge roof to the stern, the installation of a multi-beam echo sounder survey system, an overhaul of the main engines and gearboxes and the addition of naval insignia.

The spending comes after a round of cuts to the Navy which includes the loss of aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, Harrier jump-jets, and 5,000 jobs.

An MoD spokeswoman said:  »HMS Protector offers a highly capable and value-for-money solution to fulfil the important ice patrol ship capability while a decision is made on the future of HMS Endurance. »

The 4,985-ton HMS Protector will be crewed by 76 Royal Navy personnel.

The loan will be for an initial period of three years while the MoD considers whether to repair or replace HMS Endurance, which suffered major flooding off Chile in 2008.

Protector was built in 2001 as an Antarctic research ship.

The name Protector has a historic connection with Britain’s Antarctic commitment as it was the name of the ship which preceded the Endurance.

Protector will carry out all the functions of an Antarctic patrol ship involving close links with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the UK Hydrographic Office and the British Antarctic Survey.



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