HMS Endurance (A171)

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HMS Endurance
HMS Endurance docked at Portsmouth
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Endurance (A171)
Operator: Royal Navy
Builder: Ulstein Hatlo
Commissioned: 21 November 1991
Homeport: Portsmouth
Motto: Fortitudine Vincimus
"By Endurance We Conquer"
Nickname: The Red Plum (from the colour of her hull).
Status: Awaiting Repairs
General characteristics
Class and type: Class 1A1 icebreaker
Displacement: 6,100 t (6,004 long tons)
Length: 91 m (298 ft 7 in)
Beam: 17.9 m (58 ft 9 in)
Draught: 8.5 m (27 ft 11 in)
Ice class: 1A1
Propulsion: 2 × Bergen BRG 8 Diesels, 8,160 hp (6,085 kW)
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Range: 24,600 nmi (45,600 km) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Boats and landing
craft carried:
James Caird, Nimrod, Eddie Shackleton and Dudley Docker
Complement: 126
Crew: Royal Navy, Royal Marines
Sensors and
processing systems:
Type R84 and M34 surface search radar, Type 1006 navigation radar

2 × 7.62mm Mk.44 Miniguns

6 × 7.62mm L7 GPMGs[citation needed]
Aircraft carried: 2 × Ice-modified Lynx HAS 3 helicopters

HMS Endurance is the Royal Navy's Antarctic ice patrol ship. She is a class 1A1 icebreaker, with pennant number A171.


HMS Endurance was built over a period in Norway in 1990 by Ulstein Hatlo for Rieber Shipping as MV Polar Circle. The Navy chartered her for eight months as HMS Polar Circle from 21 November 1991. She was bought outright and renamed HMS Endurance on 9 October 1992.

Endurance provides a sovereign presence in polar waters, performs hydrographic surveys and supports the British Antarctic Survey in Antarctica. Her usual deployment has seen her in the South Atlantic and returning to the UK through tropical waters each year. More recently a longer, 18-month deployment was designed to maximise her time available for BAS usage.

In 1997, she made the first visit to Buenos Aires after the Falklands War and returned in 2002.[1]

In 2005, Endurance was chosen to carry HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at the International Fleet Review as part of the Trafalgar 200 celebrations.

During survey work in Antarctica in January 2006, the ship's engineering staff discovered her rudder was loose on the stock. Her work period was cut short and she returned to Mare Harbour in the Falkland Islands for further inspections. Det Norske Veritas, the ship's assurance certification company instructed that the ship should dock at the nearest available port - the nearest big enough being Puerto Belgrano, Argentina's largest naval base, where Endurance docked in mid-March 2006. Without hotel services on board, the ship's company moved to shore-side accommodation in the city of Bahía Blanca, some twenty kilometres west of Puerto Belgrano. The rudder was removed for repairs and once on the floor of the drydock, a dockers' strike followed.[2][3] The ship remained there for nearly three weeks. Picket lines formed at the gates of the naval base, preventing Endurance's crew from relieving the stranded duty watch on board. When the strike broke, the rudder was replaced and welded into position and the ship left Puerto Belgrano in early April 2006. She returned to Portsmouth via Lisbon and to drydock again for further engineering work on the rudder and stock.

In July 2007 the United Kingdom offered HMS Endurance to supply Argentine Antarctic bases after their ARA Almirante Irizar icebreaker suffered extensive damage in a fire.[4][5]

2008 near loss

In December 2008, while on an 18-month deployment, Endurance suffered extensive lower deck flooding resulting in the near loss of the ship.[6] A serious engine room flood left her without power or propulsion,[7] and she was towed to Punta Arenas by a Chilean tug. After an extensive survey was completed, the estimates to refit the ship are put at around £25M.[8] On 8 April 2009 Endurance arrived off Portsmouth, on the semi-submersible transporter ship MV Target.[9]

The Royal Navy inquiry found that the flood happened when a valve opened because air lines (which had been extremely poorly installed making reconnection ambiguous and which fell below generally accepted standards for pipe intallation)[10] had been incorrectly reconnected during unnecessary onboard maintenance. Due to manpower constraints the ship did not have a System Maintainer. Clarity of engineering command had been lost and no-one was clearly in charge of risk-management. It was fortunate that after the propulsion stopped due to the flooding, Endurance drifted over an area shallow enough for anchors to hold and stabilise her, otherwise Endurance would probably have been lost by flooding or running ashore. The ship’s company responded well to control damage in challenging conditions.[11][6]

In 2009, National Geographic Channel ran a four-episode documentary series on HMS Endurance. Five ran the same series the following year, with the final episode showing what happened the day ship almost sank.[12]

As of May 2010 Endurance remains in Portsmouth with repair work yet to start, prompting press speculation she will be scrapped as a result of the forthcoming Strategic Defence Review.[13]

According to a Freedom Of Information Request submitted in June 2010 regarding the status of Endurance, the Ministry Of Defence currently do not know what will happen to her but a decision will be made in the first part of 2011 at the latest.[citation needed]


Red Sea Rig is semi-formal evening dress worn on board by the officers. It consists of black trousers with a white short-sleeved shirt with boards and the ship’s double-sided red cummerbund. On one side is the ship’s crest, but down south, the cummerbund is worn the other way round, with a penguin showing.[14]


Endurance is a Class 1A1 icebreaker. She can move through up to 0.9 metres (3 ft) of ice at 3 knots (5.6 km/h). Her propulsion system uses a computer-controlled variable-pitch propeller and stern and bow thrusters.

Endurance carries a survey motor boat named James Caird. The original James Caird was the open boat used by Sir Ernest Shackleton to make an epic 800-mile (1,300 km) voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia. The present Endurance's other boats are named Nimrod, Eddie Shackleton and Dudley Docker which were also boat names on Shackleton's Endurance


See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
[[Commons: Category:HMS Endurance (A171)

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  1. Endurance calls in at Buenos Aires
  2. "Argentine dock workers 'capture' Royal Navy ship". The Scotsman. 20 March 2006. Retrieved 7 June 2007. 
  3. "Argentine Navy site (Spanish)". Retrieved 7 June 2007. 
  4. "British support to replace Argentina’s stricken “Irizar”". Mercopress. 26 April 2007. Retrieved 12 July 2007. 
  5. "Reparar el rompehielos costará US$ 113 millones (Spanish)". La Nación newspaper. 10 July 2007. Retrieved 12 July 2007. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Service Inquiry into the flooding of HMS Endurance on 16th December 2008, Ministry of Defence, March 2010,, retrieved 2010-05-02 
  7. "HMS Endurance > News". Royal Navy. 17 December 2008. Retrieved 19 December 2008. 
  8. Portsmouth News. 14 August 2009. 
  9. "Damaged Endurance set for repairs". BBC News. 8 April 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2009. 
  11. "HMS Endurance flood a 'near loss' incident, report says". BBC. 18 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  12. "Ice Patrol on Channel 5". Five (TV channel). 30 April 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  13. Matt Jackson (16 December 200). "The Red Plum is still facing exit". The News (Portsmouth). Retrieved 16 May 2010. 
  14. "A Day in the Life - Alison Dewynter". Visit and Learn. Retrieved 8 April 2009. 

External links

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