GC Rieber Shipping has entered into a three-year charter agreement with the UK Ministry of Defence ("MoD") for the vessel Polarbjørn. The contract commences medio April 2011 and expires in March 2014. The contract with MoD will in combination with the recently announced charter agreement for the CSV Polar King generate an annual EBITDA of about NOK 125 million.
The Polarbjørn is purpose-built for undertaking both long duration Antarctic expeditions and offshore subsea support duties. With her large public areas, accommodation capacity, helicopter deck and DP2 class, the vessel is well suited for undertaking base ship functions on offshore fields and other operations. The vessel's large deck areas and cargo holds offer "unlimited" storage capacity for ROV and related equipment. The vessel's 50 ton knuckle boom crane and the A-frame offer efficient solutions for handling equipment over the side and over the stern. The Polarbjørn has for the past 2 - 3 years been operating in the spot market.
CEO in GC Rieber Shipping, Irene Waage Basili, comments: "We are honoured to be awarded such a prestigious contract by the UK MoD which appreciates the unique design and operational features of the vessel for operations in harsh environments. The contract with the MoD offers a solid revenue stream from the vessel going forward."
As a consequence of the contract with the UK MoD, the Polarbjørn will be renamed the HMS Protector. The HMS Protector will be used as a replacement for the icebreaker HMS Endurance, which has been operating as an ice patrol ship for the Royal Navy in the South Atlantic and the Antarctic. The HMS Protector will also support the British Antarctic Survey in Antarctica.