The UK Ministry of Defence has purchased HMS Protector from GC Rieber Shipping for £51 million. The icebreaker has been on bareboat charter to the Royal Navy since April 2011. As part of the sale, the Norwegians will provide logistic support to the vessel for the remainder of the original three-year lease period.
Purpose-built for long expeditions to the Antarctic as MV Polarbjørn in 2001, the Royal Navy has used the vessel in the South Atlantic and the Antarctic to conduct surveys for the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office and provide support for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and British Antarctic Survey. The acquisition route is similar to that of HMS Endurance, which was initially chartered as MV Polar Circle from the Norwegian company in 1991, prior to outright purchase the following year after a successful first deployment. The badly-damaged Endurance has been laid-up at Portsmouth since 2008 and will be scrapped in 2015.