New ice ship nearly ready

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THE Royal Navy’s new ice patrol ship is nearing her maiden voyage after completing helicopter trials for the first time.

Portsmouth-based HMS Protector joined the navy in June on loan as an interim replacement for HMS Endurance which almost sank three years ago.

The ship recently conducted manoeuvres with a Dauphin helicopter off Plymouth over two days, testing command and bridge teams, flight deck officers and crew.

It’s another key step in turning Protector from a merchant ship into a Royal Navy vessel, ready to go on her first venture to the South Atlantic towards the end of the year.

Although she won’t carry a helicopter on deployment as she does not have a hangar, the ability to operate with aircraft is required before the ship can go to sea on deployment.

Protector will soon take her aerial activities to the next level by launching, recovering and refuelling Lynx Mark 8 helicopters – the mainstay of aerial operations by the navy’s frigate and destroyer fleet.