6 August, 2012 News stories

Royal Navy’s Antarctic patrol vessel, HMS Protector, pays a four-day visit to Ipswich

The Royal Navy’s 5000 tonne Antarctic patrol vessel will sail into Ipswich on Friday (August 10) for the start of a four-day visit. Berthed at Ipswich Docks, HMS Protector will remain in port until Wednesday morning (August 15).

The highlight of the visit, however, is that this 90 metre ship will open to the public on Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Access is free, but is restricted and by ticket only — a bus will be used to transport visitors from University Campus Suffolk’s union bar Kai to the ship in the docks. The transport will run on the hour and the half hour from Kai and tickets will be for allotted time slots — the first slot is at 10am, the last at 3.30pm.

There are only 240 places available (20 people per bus) and tickets can be obtained from Ipswich Tourist Information Centre from Tuesday August 7. But you will need to be quick — they are available on a first come, first served basis. Visitors will be able to tour the ship and learn more about HMS Protector and her work in the Antarctic. British Antarctic Survey, which works very closely with the Royal Navy, will have a display stand on the quayside beside the ship.

On Monday, the crew will continue their visits in Cambridge at the headquarters of the British Antarctic Survey.

“It is both a real pleasure and a genuine privilege to be able to bring HMS Protector to Ipswich, a port renowned for its warm welcome for visiting RN ships,” said Captain Sparkes. “The visit will also present an excellent opportunity for us to build on the strong ties that we have with our nearby affiliated city of Cambridge.”

Protector began life as the MV Polarbjørn (Polar Bear), a Norwegian icebreaker and polar research vessel which has shown her flexibility by also acting as a support vessel for an oil platform in the Caribbean. Now she’s a fully-fledged Royal Navy ship, bristling with the latest in survey technology and other high-tech specialist equipment, as well as a flight deck.