The Royal Navy are seriously considering the future of HMS Endurance, Britain’s specialist South Atlantic patrol ship and icebreaker, reports Janes Navy International.
Endurance was seriously damaged by flooding in late 2008, and is currently laid up in Portsmouth while it is decided what to do with her. With the repair bill being estimated at £30m, it is not surprising that the Navy are looking at alternatives. At 19 years old, would it be cost effective to repair her? Or might it be more prudent to replace her with a leased ship?
HMS Scott is currently performing Endurance’s role of patrolling the South Atlantic antarctic area. HMS Clyde is also based semi-permanently in the Falkland Islands, and there is usually a Frigate or Destroyer on station in the South Atlantic too. Whilst it might be argued that cutting Endurance from the fleet would signal to the Argentinians that the UK is not serious about the South Atlantic, even without Endurance we have a much more considerable presence around the Falklands now than we did pre-1982. And, arguably, the Argentines are in no position, politically or militarily, to take any action over the Falklands.
Endurance also carries out scientific surveys in the Antarctic area. Whilst this is no doubt useful and interesting to scientists, is this a priority for the Navy? The British Antarctic Survey has its own research vessel, the James Clark Ross.
Endurance is a special ship, no doubt about it, but in hard times maybe the Navy needs to be looking to cut its cloth.