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HMS Endurance

Table of contents
1 Endurance
2 First Royal Navy Endurance
3 Second Royal Navy Endurance


Endurance was the three-masted barquentine in which Sir Ernest Shackleton sailed for the Antarctic on his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1914. Built in Norway by the Framnaes shipyard she was launched on December 17, 1912 and was initially called Polaris. She was 144 feet (43.9 m)long, 25 feet (7.62 m) in beam and weighed 350 tons. As well as sails she had a 350 hp steam engine driving a single shaft, giving a top speed of around 10 knots. She was designed for polar conditions with a very sturdy construction, including twice as many frames as normal.

She was built for Adrien de Gerlache and Lars Christensen. They intended to use her for polar cruises for tourists. Financial problems ment that Christensen was happy to sell the boat to Shackleton for 11,600, less than cost. She was renamed Endurance after the Shackleton family motto "fortitudine vincimus".

She was trapped in the Antarctic ice and after 281 days, on November 21, 1915, sank.

First Royal Navy Endurance

HMS Endurance, ex-Anita Dan, was built in Denmark in 1956 by Grogerwerft for the Lauritzen Lines. She was acquired by the Royal Navy in 1967, converted by Harland & Wolff and renamed. The vessel maintained a British presence in Antarctica and the Falkland Islands during the summer months. She also supported the British Antarctic Survey. Due to her bright red hull she was nicknamed 'Red Plum'. The Royal Navy intended to decommission the vessel in 1982, following the defence review of John Nott, but the Falklands War intervened.

On March 19, 1982 while the ship was at Port Stanley, South Georgia was occupied by Argentinian civilians. The Endurance, commanded by Captain Nick Barker, was sent to order the Argentinians off the island. Endurance had a small Royal Marines detachment and took further Marines from Navy Party 8901, and sailed on March 21 for South Georgia. Arriving on March 25, she encountered the Argentinian transport Bahai Buen Suceso, which had landed 100 troops, and Endurance landed her marines before returning to the Falklands on March 30. She joined up with the British task force in April and landed SBS soldiers at Hound Bay on South Georgia on April 22. With the threat of a submarine, other vessels moved into deeper waters but Endurance moved into sea ice near the shore. On April 25 two Wasp ASW helicopters flying from Endurance assisted in attacks on the submarine Santa Fe, which was later abandoned by her crew. When the Argentinian forces surrendered on the 26th the Endurance remained in the vicinity of the island as a guard.

Toward the end of her life she acquired the nickname HMS Encumbrance due to reliability problems.

In 1989 she struck an iceberg and although she was repaired, a survey in 1991 declared that the hull was not sound enough for a return to Antarctica and she was finally decommissioned. She was replaced by the MV Polar Circle (see below).

Second Royal Navy Endurance

HMS Endurance is the Royal Navy's Antarctic ice patrol ship. She is a class 1A1 ice-breaker, pennant number A171. She was originally built in Norway in 1990 by Ulstein Hatlo for Rieber Shipping as MV Polar Circle. The navy chartered her in 1991 for eight months as HMS Polar Circle on November 21. She was bought outright in 1992 and renamed HMS Endurance on October 9 of that year. She provides a sovereign presence in Antarctica, performs hydrographic surveys and supports the British Antarctic Survey.

She can move through up to 0.9 metres of ice at 3 knots. Her propulsion system uses a computer-controlled variable pitch propellor and stern and bow thrusters.