The Former HMS Endurance

The former HMS Endurance, affectionately known as ‘Red Plum’, was a Class 1 icebreaker that served as the Royal Navy’s ice patrol ship between 1991 and 2008.

Built in 1990 by Ulstein Hatlo for Reiber Shipping, Norway, as MV Polar Circle, she was chartered by the Royal Navy in 1991 for eight months as HMS Polar Circle. She was purchased by the Royal Navy in October 1992 and renamed HMS Endurance.


  • Displacement: 4050 tonnes, with an estimated metal weight of 3200 tonnes.
  • Current Draughts: 5.6m Fwd, 5.8 Mid, 6.6 Aft.
  • Length: OA 91m, W/L 82.5.
  • Beam (Moulded): 17.9, bridge wings overhand 20.9m.
  • Mainmast-Head Height: 31m.

HMS Endurance deployed annually to the Antarctic, which was her operating area for seven months of the year.

Her base port was HMNB Portsmouth, which was also the ship’s affiliated town.

The Ship’s motto was “Fortitudine Vincimus”, meaning ‘By Endurance We Conquer’, which originated from that of the great Antarctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton who made history in his ship, ‘Endurance’ in his expedition south in 1914-15.

Civilian Scientists for the British Schools Expedition Group were onboard HMS Endurance as guests of the Royal Navy when it nearly sank off Chile in December 2008. She suffered extensive flooding to her machinery spaces and lower accommodation decks resulting in the near loss of the ship. She was laid up in Portsmouth from 2008, following serious damage caused by flooding following an error during routine maintenance on a sea suction strainer. 15 civilians were airlifted off the ship. Decisive and professional rescue support from the Chilean navy prevented the icebreaker with dead engines from running on to the rocks.

HMS Endurance was later tugged to the Falkland Islands and then a special submersible barge took her back to Britain.

It was decided that the vessel was to be scrapped as the cost of repairs was considered to be too great.

HMS Endurance’s role as the Navy’s Antarctic patrol vessel has been taken over by HMS Protector – a former Norwegian research ship which was given a refit for its new role. £5 million was invested in improved communications systems, enhanced armour protection and specialist hydrographic equipment including a survey motorboat.

HMS Endurance ceased operational service in April 2012, originally being due to go out of operational service in 2015.

A tender exercise for the recycling of the former HMS Endurance was carried out in September 2015 and the vessel was sold on an ‘as seen as lying’ basis for recycling.

LEYAL Ship Recycling Ltd, Aliaga in Turkey, was awarded preferred bidder status and a formal contract was awarded in January 2016.

HMS Endurance departed HMNB Portsmouth, under the tow of Spartan, on her way to the ship dismantling facility in Aliaga on 01 June 2016.

The vessel was fully dismantled 26 August 2016.


Since 2008, LEYAL Ship Recycling Ltd has won 13 recycling projects. This includes:

  • The three former aircraft carriers; HMSs Ark Royal, Invincible, and Illustrious;
  • Four RFA tankers RFAs Oakleaf, Bayleaf, Fort George, and Orangeleaf;
  • Three Type 22 frigates; HMSs Cumberland, Campbeltown and, Chatham; and
  • The icebreaker and ice control ship, HMS Endurance.

Leyal has also successfully recycled 11 Type 42s: HMSs Cardiff; Newcastle; Glasgow; Exeter; Southampton; Nottingham; Manchester; Liverpool; York; Gloucester; and Edinburgh.


MercoPress (2013) Ice patrol HMS Endurance a complete loss, will be scrapped says MOD. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 13 may, 2018].


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