The UK Ministry of Defence has purchased the 2001-built HMS Protector from GC Rieber Shipping, from whom the icebreaker has been on bareboat charter to the Royal Navy since April 2011. As part of the sale, the Norwegians will continue to provide logistic support to the vessel for the remainder of the original three-year lease period.
Built for long expeditions in polar regions, the former MV Polarbjørn is used by the Royal Navy to conduct surveys for the UK Hydrographic Office and to provide support for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and British Antarctic Survey in the South Atlantic and the Antarctic.
The acquisition path is similar to that of her predecessor, which was initially chartered as MV Polar Circle from the same Norwegian company in 1991. She was bought outright the following year after a successful first deployment, becoming the second HMS Endurance. She was never repaired following her near-sinking near Chile in 2008 and will now most likely be scrapped.