THE Royal Navy’s new ice patrol ship has been on sea trials in the Solent ahead of her maiden deployment.
HMS Protector is going through a work-up period in Portsmouth before she sets sail for the South Atlantic at the end of November.
She returned to Portsmouth Naval Base early yesterday morning after 24 hours at sea testing her new systems.
The ship is on loan as a replacement for HMS Endurance which has been out of action since she almost sank off Chile three years ago.
Protector recently operated with a helicopter for the first time – though she will not carry aircraft at sea because she does not have a hangar.
The navy leased the ice-breaker earlier this year. The £26m contract signed with Norwegian firm GC Rieber Shipping is for a three-year lease. In 2014, the navy has the option to extend it for two years or to purchase the ship.
The News understands Endurance will be decommissioned and sold.