HMS Endurance, also known as The Red Plum, proudly served the Royal Navy for 24 years as UK’s sole ice patrol vessel. She was converted for the purpose of her role, including the addition of a hangar and flight deck for the operation of two WASP helicopters, carrying the numbers 434 and 435 respectively.

Throughout her career in the RN she mainly deployed to Antarctica with the two WASPs embarked, and carried out survey missions to uncharted waters, supporting the British Antarctic Survey. Apart from that, she also took a major part in the Falklands War of ‘82, carried the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh during the Trafalgar 200 celebrations and lots more honourable operations.

Unfortunately, her career was cut short whilst on an 18th-month deployment, when Endurance suffered extensive flooding to her machinery spaces and lower accommodation decks resulting in catastrophic damages and the ship to be eventually written off. (Her captain, Cdr Tom Sharpe analyses his experience in the crew’s efforts to save the ship in the article: Mayday in the Magellan)

HMS PROTECTOR RUSHES INTO SERVICE

The imposingness of an Antarctic Patrol ship and its power to influence great events such as the Falklands War, was enough of a lesson to impact The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s decision into requiring a Royal Naval presence in the deep south. Hence HMS Protector was rushed into service to replace Endurance and stand as the UK’s valuable asset for good, supporting global science and conservation. Regardless of its value, the lack of a hangar and the exposed flight deck, results in infrequent helicopter landings, making Protector unable to provide the valuable helicopter logistics capability that her predecessor could offer. 

TWO SKY MANTIS UAVS ARE NOW SERVING THE RN

RN have now assigned two Sky Mantis UAVs to be flown from Protector. By honouring the tradition and respecting the historical continuity, when Evolve Dynamics came to apply the identification side-numbering to the two new Sky Mantis UAVs, the numbers 434 and 435 were given respectively…and the legacy continues.

Those Sky Mantis carry multiple special features to ultimately adjust to the RN requirements, including a “boat mode” software package and buoyancy sponsons on each aircraft’s side. Boat mode allows taking off from a rocking platform as well as live home tracking and ensures the aircraft autonomously returns to the vessel – rather than the take off location.

The two UAVs are designed to offer outstanding performances even at the most unprecedented, foul weather conditions and freezing temperatures (-5ºC down to -17ºC windchill which is well within its operating range of -40ºC to +50ºC and a sea water temperature of -1ºC), with easy deployment and low maintenance cost, great versatility in surveying when using the standard dual payload camera (Dual HD 30X zoom low light EO and 640×512 30FPS thermal / IR) and long endurance (1 hour of flying with payload).

The tracking capabilities of the UAV payload will serve to complete search and rescue missions and will also be used for aerial photography, surveying and plotting routes through sea ice. A comprehensive mission planning software package allows advanced mapping and cartography missions.

Evolve Dynamics is humbled and honoured to carry these numbers forward and we look forward to supporting the Royal Navy and HMS Protector in their future operations across the waters.  

By Press