HMS Protector (A173)

HMS Protector (A173) is the Royal Navy’s Ice Patrol Ship. She sails the waters of Antarctica and the Southern Hemisphere and is deployed for 330 days a year. 

HMS Protector (A173) is currently on deployment

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About this forum

HMS Protector is the Royal Navy’s only Ice Patrol Ship. She calls the freezing waters of Antarctica and the Southern Hemisphere home.

She is affectionately referred to as the Royal Navy’s ‘swiss army knife’ – red, versatile, and always there when you need her!

HMS Protector’s crew includes to a team of permanent divers, who undertake exploratory surveys and ensure that environmental guidelines are being upheld.

This ice patroller is well-equipped with 2 cranes capable of lifting up to 60 tonnes of stores and equipment.

Facts & figures

Facts & figures

4,741 horse power

Her powerplant

0.5 metres

The thickness of ice her hull glides through

5,000 tonnes

Total displacement

Our skills

Our skills

With permanent diving capability and a team of mountain leader-trained Royal Marines, Protector is ready for every mission the Frozen Continent might throw at her. She offers:

  • Survey capability – including multi-beam echo sounding and inshore survey equipment for accessing shallower waters.
  • Small work boats – including an 8.5m ramped work boat called the ‘Terra Nova’, and several inflatable and rigid inflatable motor boats.
  • Highly skilled divers – who are adept and at home in freezing conditions.
  • Heavy lifting capability – with 2 x cranes capable of lifting a huge 60 tonnes of stores and equipment.

Our operations

Current operation

Antarctic Patrol


Surveying, gathering data and upholding environmental regulations in the seas around Antarctica.

Our base

Our base


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Commanding Officer

Captain Michael Wood

Michael is a 'Distinguished Graduate' of the US Joint Advanced Warfare School; completing a MSc in Campaign Planning and Strategy, and publishing on lessons from the US experience of carrierled crisis response operations.


HMS Protector's role

Protective patrol in the most extreme conditions

HMS Protector deployed to the South Atlantic in 2015. She travels to various locations in and around the Antarctic Peninsula on missions including:

  • Undertaking hydrographic surveys of the area to improve the safety of navigation.
  • Providing support to UK and foreign research stations.
  • Assisting the British Antarctic Survey.

As well providing practical support, Protector is a symbol of the Royal Navy’s global reach and operational flexibility. She shows that we’re ready and able to act whenever and wherever needed.

Unit history

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