Jun 2016

HMS Protector and the Royal Navy’s Mission in Antarctica

The APPG for Polar Regions was delighted to welcome Captain Rory Bryan OBE, Commanding Officer of HMS Protector to give a presentation on HMS Protector’s activities in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.  

HMS Protector was built in Norway in 2001, serving as a polar research icebreaker under the name MV Polarbjørn (translation: polar bear). In 2011, the Ministry of Defence chartered HMS Protector as a replacement for HMS Endurance, before being purchased outright in 2013.  

As the UK’s only ice patrol ship, HMS Protector is deployed on operations for 330 days a year.  This includes a three to four month period in Antarctic waters during the ‘Antarctic summer’. Due to the extreme demands of operating in Antarctic waters, the rest of HMS Protector’s deployment is used for training and equipping the crew for the next Antarctic season.  

HMS Protector’s core mission is to demonstrate the UK Government’s support of the Antarctic Treaty and the Commissioner for the British Antarctic Territory.  

Delivering on these objectives takes a variety of forms including visits to other nations’ Antarctic stations, support to the British Antarctic Survey (transferring scientists, equipment and supplies), survey operations (charting ice and hydrography, as well as monitoring local flora and fauna), and defence engagement (for example, over the past year HMS Protector has worked closely with the Navies of Australia and New Zealand on the problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing).  

HMS Protector recently completed a full circumnavigation of Antarctica, travelling further south than any other Royal Navy ship has for eighty years, and providing an important reminder of the UK’s ability to project its influence in the Southern Ocean and in support of the Antarctic Treaty.  

The Chairman would like to thank Captain Rory Bryan for his presentation.

This briefing paper was prepared by Dr Duncan Depledge for the
All-Party Parliamentary Group for Polar Regions.

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This is not an official publication of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. It has not been approved by either House or its committees, nor does it represent the views of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Polar Regions.