HMS Protector makes history

HMS Protector has made history by sailing further north than any other Royal Navy ship.

The survey and research ship crunched her way through polar ice to within 1,050km of the top of the world as she gathered data about the ocean and environment

Only submarines – such as HMS Trenchant which punched through the ice at the Pole in 2018 – can travel further north than the position the Plymouth-based survey ship reached: 80°41.5 North in the Greenland Sea.

Protector completed the most extensive overhaul in her decade-long career in the Royal Navy in January, since when she has been conducting extensive trials and training – all with the goal of deploying to Antarctica in the autumn.

While carrying out ice trials on 15th June 2021, HMS Protector had a visit from a mother polar bear and her cub. Ship’s company put the sampling schedule on hold and enjoyed a once in a lifetime experience seeing a polar bear in the wild. Once the bear had moved on and the area was safe, ice sampling and ice breaking trials continued. Image: UK Crown Copyright 2021

Having been nowhere near the ice in more than two years, the ship tested the strength of her engines using a specialist bollard pull in Flekkefjord, southern Norway, then began icebreaking in earnest in the Fram Strait – between Greenland and the Norwegian island chain of Svalbard.

The ship tested herself against various depths and types of ice, assisted by scientists, engineers and advisors including from the Ministry of Defence and the British Antarctic Survey.

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