Loss of HMS Protector a ‘terrible shame’, says MP

HMS Protector
HMS Protector
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The decision to move HMS Protector’s home port from Portsmouth to Plymouth has been criticised.

The Royal Navy’s ice patrol ship leaves the city on deployment next week, but she won’t be coming back.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided the icebreaker will now be based in Devonport, to join the navy’s other survey ships.

Mike Hancock, the MP for Portsmouth South, has criticised the move.

He said: ‘It is a terrible shame because historically both Endurance and Protector were always Portsmouth-based ships.

‘To lose a ship from our naval base is a disappointment to everyone.

‘It’s another link that will be lost. They really have to justify this because I think it is a shame and I’m disappointed.

‘I will ask the minister why it is being done because it’s ridiculous.’

The decision, revealed yesterday by The News, comes after the government decided to scrap HMS Endurance, the ice patrol ship which has been laid up in Portsmouth since it suffered catastrophic damage in 2008.

HMS Protector, a Norwegian ship which was on loan to the UK, has now been purchased to take her place.

The ship sails on a deployment next week, but when she returns to British waters in April next year, she will head for Devonport, not Portsmouth.

Penny Mordaunt, the MP for Portsmouth North, said she hopes the government is planning on moving other ships to Portsmouth, such as the six Type 23 frigates which are based in Devonport.

But the MoD says there are no other plans to change the home ports of ships.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘The rationale is they want her close to the other survey ships, but historically the MoD has resisted doing that.

‘I will be flagging this up with the department because if the plan is to have all the survey ships in Devonport than it makes sense to have all the destroyers and frigates in Portsmouth and have Portsmouth as the home of the surface fleet. I would be surprised if that isn’t the long-term plan.’

HMS Protector will leave Portsmouth for the last time on Thursday when she sails for a deployment.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said: ‘Last year, the Royal Navy established a Hydrography and Meteorology Centre of Specialisation at Devonport, which was the base port of the four survey ships in the squadron. It has been decided that HMS Protector will move to Devonport on April 1, 2014.

‘This will bring the fleet together and complete the Royal Navy’s plans to focus hydrography and meteorology expertise in a single location.’