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The Royal Navy's ice patrol ship HMS Endurance is to be replaced with a Norwegian ship on a three-year loan basis.
Speaking in the House of Lords this week, Lord Astor, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence, said the new ship, to be called HMS Protector, will be leased for three years while HMS Endurance’s future is considered:
The intention is to lease MV Polarbjørn, a Norwegian ice patrol ship, for an initial period of three years,” Lord Astor said.
The ship’s mission is to patrol and survey the Antarctic and South Atlantic, after the Portsmouth-based Endurance suffered a flood in 2008 following a maintenance error off the coast of Chile.
HMS Endurance has been docked at HM Naval Base Portsmouth ever since she was transported back to the UK on a special container ship in 2009.
MV Polarbjørn, as HMS Protector, is due to arrive in May for refitting ahead of deployment.
Lord Astor said a contract for the lease was expected to be signed soon with GC Rieber Shipping - the Government’s preferred bidders.
Six ships of the Royal Navy have previously been called HMS Protector, including an Antarctic survey vessel which served from 1936 to 1970.
HMS Scott, which is not an icebreaker but which has been conducting patrols in the Antarctic, will continue with her Ocean Survey Programme once she has received maintenance back in the UK.