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HMS Protector

HMS Protector is the Royal Navy’s Ice patrol Ship and is deployed on operations for 330 days a year.

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The ship is capable of positioning to pinpoint accuracy in winds of up to 80 knots and is fitted with an impressive array of specialist equipment.

This includes a hull mounted multi-beam echo sounder; a state-of-the-art survey motor boat (SMB), ‘James Caird IV’; an 8.5m ramped Work Boat, ‘Terra Nova’; seven high-speed rigid inflatable and inflatable boats; three quad bikes and trailers and a Land Rover and two trailers.

HMS Protector deployed from Devonport in October 2015 to the South Atlantic for her annual ice-season patrol.

Protector will continue to provide a reassuring presence in the United Kingdom's largest overseas territory - the British Antarctic Territory. 

She will help deliver the United Kingdom's commitments under the Antarctic Treaty, support science programmes and ensure that expeditions and vessels are meeting their international environmental obligations. 

The Ice Patrol Ship is a symbol of the Royal Navy’s global reach, operational flexibility and the Service’s ability to sustain operations wherever and whenever that presence is required.

The Royal Navy’s Ice Patrol ship has just completed a historic five week patrol to the East Antarctic and Ross Sea.

HMS Protector is the first Royal Navy, or UK Government, vessel to have visited the region in 80 years or to have travelled so far south having dipped below 77 degrees latitude.

HMS Protector returns to remote Antarctic island

HMS Protector returns to remote Antarctic island


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Current operation Antarctic patrol

To provide a UK sovereign presence in the British Antarctic Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and their surrounding maritime areas, to underpin their security and good governance; and meet the UK treaty obligations and exercise rights under the Antarctic Treaty System through inspections, hydrographic charting and support to scientific research.

Location Antarctica

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Unit History


Launched on August 20, Protector was commissioned on December 30. She originally displaced 2,900 tones as a fast netlayer or target-towing ship.

World War 21939

During World War 2 she served in the South Atlantic, home waters and the early Norwegian campaign. Then sent to the Mediterranean in 1940, where she was struck by a torpedo.

Major refit1955

She underwent the first phase of a major refit at Devonport where she was converted for service as a guardship for the Falkland Islands Dependencies.

New title1959

Protector was officially reclassified as an ice patrol ship; although she carried out her first patrol in the autumn of 1955 of the South Atlantic and Antarctic region as patrol and survey ship.

The end1968

She was paid off on May 3 1968 after completing 13 'seasons', and scrapped in 1970.

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Commanding Officer Angus Essenhigh

Rank: Captain

Captain Angus Essenhigh joined the Royal Navy in 1992 as a University Cadet. He assumed Command of HMS Protector in June 2016.

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HMS Protector is the Royal Navy’s ‘Swiss ArmyKnife’ – red, versatile, and always there when you need her

HMNB Devonport

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