Tag Archives: HMS Scott

New Royal Navy ice patrol vessel announced

The Ministry of Defence has announced that the Icebreaker MV PolarBjorn (Polar Bear) has been selected to become the Royal Navy’s new ice patrol vessel. PolarBjorn will be re-christened HMS Protector while in Royal Navy service. The last  HMS Protector was also an antarctic patrol vessel.

Heres the spiel from Rieber’s website:

The ‘Polarbjørn’ is purpose-built for undertaking both long duration Antarctic expeditions, and offshore subsea support duties.  With her large public areas and accommodation capacities, helicopter deck and DP2 class, the vessel is well suited for undertaking flotel- and base ship functions on offshore fields and other operations. The vessel’s large deck areas and cargo holds offers ‘unlimited’ storage capacity for ROV and related equipment. The ship’s 50-ton knuckle-boom crane and the A-frame offers efficient solutions for handling equipment over the side and over the stern.

A few facts and figures about Polar Bjorn:

  • 90 metres long
  • 18 metres beam
  • 9.05 metres draught
  • Gross tonnage 4,985 tons, deadweight of 3,700 tons

She is currently owned by Rieber Shipping, and was launched in 2001. Until recently she has been working under a Norwegian flag on the ‘spot’ tendering market in the North Sea and Arctic offshore oil fields. Apparently during 2010 she was only being used 33% of the time due to the economic downturn, so her chartering by the MOD will be welcome to her owners. Official announcements by Defence Minister Lord Astor suggest that she will be leased for three years while HMS Endurance‘s fate is decided, but I would suggest that it is likely that Endurance will be scrapped and PolarBjorn/Protector purchased once the lease runs out. The same happened with HMS Endurance herself.

Amusingly, apparently members of the HMS Protector Association had known about the acquisition since January, but had been sworn to secrecy by the ship’s new CO, Captain Peter Sparkes. The Association’s newsletter also announces that she will be formally commisioned on 23 June 2011 in Portsmouth.

According to some sources she will be arriving in Portsmouth for the first time in April or May. At that point she will undergo a refit to install naval equipment, such as communications and limited weaponry. Apparently her up-front helicopter deck is going to be removed, and a new landing pad installed nearer her stern. This will probably necessitate the removal of some of her crane capability, which she will probably not use fully in RN service in any case. She will also need a hangar, given the manner in which she will operate independently in the ice.

The former ice patrol ship HMS Endurance is being withdrawn from service after suffering serious damage when she flooded in the South Atlantic in 2008. Since then the Offshore patrol vessel HMS Scott has been standing-in in the South Atlantic, but this is far from ideal as she is not an ice-breaker, and takes her away from her other role.

It will be good to see a new ship entering Portsmouth for a change.

26 Comments

Filed under defence, Falklands War, Navy, News, Uncategorized

HMS Scott (H131)

HMS Scott is an Ocean Survey Vessel of the Royal Navy.

Displacing 13,000 tons, she is the Royal Navy’s largest Survey Ship, the sixth largest overall in the British Fleet, and also the largest survey ship in Europe. She also has an auxilliary role as a minesweeper support vessel if the need arises.

Apparently she can stay at sea for up to 300 days a year, due to a watch rotation system. The ship’s crew is made up of three sections, two of which are needed on board to run the ship. The third can be on shore for leave or training. This obviously maximises the time the ship can spend at sea, only having to return for maintenance on the ship itself. We don’t often see her in Portsmouth as she’s based in Plymouth usually. Come to think of it, who know’s why she wasn’t on display at Navy Days? Shame, she must have some interesting kit onboard.

Ocean Surveying might seem a bit pointless for the Royal Navy to be carrying out. But surveying is a very important task – not least for commercial usage, such as Admiralty Charts, but also in scientific research into the deep seas. In 2005 HMS Scott investigated the Indian Ocean after the Boxing Day Tsunami, and was the first ship to be able to report on the effects of the earthquake on the Ocean Floor.

Last winter she deployed to the Antarctic, mainly in place of the flood-damaged HMS Endurance. This deployment may well have sounded the death-knell for Endurance – if a survey vessel can perform the task, why the need for a specialist icebreaker, and one that will cost millions to repair at that? Endurance was certainly not a new ship anyway, so would need replacing at some point. The normal argument is that withdrawing Endurance would send a signal of weakness to Buenos Aries… but we already have the Falklands Patrol vessel in HMS Clyde, a Destroyer of Frigate permanently on station as a guardship, and the British Antarctic Survey have their Research Vessels James Clark Ross and Ernest Shackleton for the ice surveying part of Endurance’s role.

30 Comments

Filed under Navy