HMS Endurance (1967)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Endurance.
HMS Endurance (formerly Anita Dan)
Career (Denmark)
Name: Anita Dan
Owner: Lauritzen Lines
Launched: 1956
Fate: Sold to the Royal Navy, 1967
Career (UK)
Name: HMS Endurance
Acquired: 1967
Out of service: 1991
Homeport: Chatham and Portsmouth
Nickname: The Red Plum
HMS Encumbrance
General characteristics
Type: Icebreaker
Displacement: 3,600 long tons (3,658 t)
Length: 93 m (305 ft)
Beam: 14 m (46 ft)
Draught: 5.5 m (18 ft)
Propulsion: 1 × Burmeister & Wain diesel engine
Speed: 14.5 knots (26.9 km/h; 16.7 mph)
Complement: 119
Armament: 2 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannon
Aircraft carried: 1967–87: 2 × Westland Wasp helicopters
1987–91: 2 × Westland Lynx helicopters (after 1987 refit)
Service record
Operations: Falklands War

HMS Endurance was a Royal Navy ice patrol vessel that served from 1967 to 1991. She came to public notice when she was involved in the Falklands War of 1982.

Service history[edit]

Grogerwerft of Denmark built her in 1956 as Anita Dan for Lauritzen Lines. The UK government bought her in 1967 and had Harland & Wolff convert her. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Endurance, named after the sailing ship Endurance that took the explorer Ernest Shackleton's expedition to the Antarctic in 1914.

The new Endurance maintained a UK presence in Antarctica and the Falkland Islands during the southern summer. She also supported the British Antarctic Survey. She had a bright red hull, as is common for polar vessels to aid visibility but otherwise uncommon for the Royal Navy, so her crew nicknamed her The Red Plum. In February 1972 when the cruise ship Lindblad Explorer ran aground, Endurance was in the vicinity under Captain Rodney Bowden[1] and took part in the rescue.

The Ministry of Defence's 1981 Defence White Paper proposed naval cuts including decommissioning Endurance, which was scheduled for 15 April 1982.[2]

The battle for the Falklands[edit]

Endurance‍ '​s withdrawal from Antarctic patrol without replacement was perceived in Britain [3][4] as having encouraged the Argentinian invasion. The subsequent Franks Report acknowledged it as a factor (Main entry Events leading to the Falklands War).

HMS Endurance (A-171) in Portsmouth harbour in 1988

On 19 March 1982, while Endurance was at Stanley, South Georgia was occupied by Argentinian civilians. The ship, 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 NP (Naval Party) 8901, and sailed on 21 March for South Georgia.

Arriving on 25 March 1982 Endurance encountered the Argentinian transport ARA Bahía Buen Suceso, which had landed 100 Argentine troops. Endurance landed her marines, then returned to the Falklands on 30 March. In April the UK command ordered Endurance to join the UK Task Force, which in April landed SBS soldiers at Hound Bay on South Georgia on 22 April.

Task Force vessels moved into deeper waters as a precaution against Argentinian submarines, but Endurance moved into sea ice near the shore.

Endurance‍ '​s was not in action on 25 April 1982 when her two Wasp ASW helicopters took part in attacks on the submarine ARA Santa Fe, which was later abandoned by her crew. When Argentinian forces surrendered the next day, Endurance remained near the island to show the UK flag, maintain a naval presence, and guard the waters.

Endurance also took part in the rescue of wildlife film-makers Cindy Buxton and Annie Price, who were caught up in the war while working on South Georgia.[5]


Toward the end of her life the ship was nicknamed HMS Encumbrance due to reliability problems.

In 1989 she struck an iceberg and although she was repaired, a survey in 1991 found that her hull was not sound enough for a return to Antarctica and she was finally decommissioned. She was replaced by Polar Circle, later renamed HMS Endurance.


  1. ^ "Captain Rodney Bowden". The Daily Telegraph. 5 November 2004. 
  2. ^ Gibran, Daniel K (1998). The Falklands War: Britain versus the past in the South Atlantic. McFarland & Co. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-7864-0406-3. 
  3. ^ House of Commons debate 23 March 1982; Hansard Vol 20 col 798–801
  4. ^ The Times 25 March 1982, p 13: letter from BG Frew, Hon Sec UK Falkland Islands Committee
  5. ^ Buxton, Cindy; Price, Annie (1983). Survival South Atlantic. London: Granada. p. xiii. ISBN 0-246-12087-8. 

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