'˜Sad day' for Portsmouth as iconic icebreaker Endurance leaves city for Turkish scrapyard

HER bright red hull has been a familiar sight in Portsmouth for many years.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 1st June 2016, 6:00 am
HMS Endurance in the south-eastern Antarctic in 2007
Picture: LA(Phot) Kelly Whybrow
HMS Endurance in the south-eastern Antarctic in 2007 Picture: LA(Phot) Kelly Whybrow

But today will see the final voyage of the navy’s former ice patrol ship HMS Endurance.

The Portsmouth-based icebreaker is due to be tugged out of the city’s harbour this afternoon, destined for a Turkish scrapyard.

Former city council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson had the privilege to sail on Endurance – affectionately known as the Red Plum.

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He said: ‘The Red Plum has been a very important ship to Portsmouth and is a much-loved sight in the city.

‘She was our affiliated ship and we gave her the freedom of the city, so it will be a sad day to see her leave Portsmouth.’

Endurance was expected to leave the city at 2.30pm – weather dependent – for the voyage to the Turkish shipbreaker yard.

She started life as MV Polar Circle, built in Norway in 1990 for Rieber Shipping.

Then, in 1991, the icebreaker was loaned for eight months to the Royal Navy before being bought outright by the Senior Service and renamed HMS Endurance in October 1992.

Endurance played a key role in providing a British presence in Polar waters, performing hydrographic surveys and supporting the British Antarctic Survey in Antarctica.

In 2005, Endurance hosted the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh during the International Fleet Review as part of the Trafalgar 200 celebrations in Portsmouth.

Former members of the ship’s company have since described how the icebreaker was one of the best vessels they had ever worked on.

Speaking on Facebook, Andy Priddy wrote: ‘Best ship. Yes she was an oddball.

‘She was definitely the best days of my Royal Navy career.’

Neil Sampson said: ‘What a beauty. Top draw draft and certainly entertaining in all areas.’

It was not always smooth sailing for Endurance.

Her latter years were blighted by mechanical issues – in 2008 she almost sank when her engine control room flooded off the Chilean coast.

The incident saw 15 civilians airlifted to safety.

The repairs proved too costly and the government revealed she was destined for scrap in 2013.

Endurance was replaced by HMS Protector in 2011.

Protector was built in 2001 as an Antarctic research ship and was formerly known under the Norwegian name of MV Polarbjorn.

She was based in Portsmouth until being moved to a new home in Devonport in October 2013.