Skip to content
Recruiting now.Explore navy careers

Plymouth’s polar presence as explorers’ namesake warships link up

13 October 2023
You’ve probably heard of Scott and Amundsen.

Well here’s Scott and Nansen – two present-day ships named after legendary figures in polar exploration.

The two vessels exchanged formalities as they passed through the South West Exercise Areas together – HMS Scott gearing up for renewed survey operations after summer in maintenance, while the Norwegian frigate is undertaking Operational Sea Training.

Scott takes her name from Royal Navy officer and Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott whose bid to become the first man to reach the South Pole was trumped by Nansen’s friend Roald Amundsen in 1911, with all of Scott’s five-strong party dying trying to return to base camp.

Back in the 1990s, Scott was honoured with Britain’s largest survey ship – which specialises in deep ocean study – bearing his name.

As for Nansen, he was an inspirational figure to both Scott and Amundsen thanks to his pioneering exploration of the Arctic in the mid-1890s.

Nansen – who was also a leading figure in Norwegian nationalism, a diplomat and scientists – has islands, mountains, even craters on the Moon and Mars bearing his name, was given a class of the Royal Norwegian Navy’s new class of frigates in the 00s, led by the eponymous flagship.

Our meeting is a symbol of our commitment to working together to address the challenges of the 21st Century, just as the explorers Nansen and Scott did in their time.

Commander Stian Schnelle

And like many other Norwegian warships (and NATO allies), HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen is taking advantage of the world-leading training delivered by Fleet Operational Standards and Training to provide ships and their crews with the skills, confidence and collective understanding and know-how to deal with any issue on deployment, from coping with fires and floods… to all-out naval warfare.

The encounter off the coast of Plymouth underscores the long-standing relationship between the two nations/navies (the RN has worked extensively with Norwegian forces this year, most recently flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth operating off the fjords.

"The meeting of HMS Scott and HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen at sea is a symbol of the enduring bonds that connect our two nations and our shared heritage of exploration in the world's polar regions," said Commander Sam Nightingale, Commanding Officer of HMS Scott.

"It serves as a reminder of the dedication and courage of explorers like Fridtjof Nansen and Captain Robert Falcon Scott, whose legacy continues to inspire us."

His counterpart on the Nansen, Commander Stian Schnelle, added: "It is a privilege to sail alongside HMS Scott, and we are honoured to commemorate our shared legacy of polar exploration.

“Our meeting is a symbol of our commitment to working together to address the challenges of the 21st Century, just as the explorers Nansen and Scott did in their time."

Related articles

Navy News Magazine

We bring you the latest news, features and award-winning photographs from the front-line. Navy News has been reporting on all that happens in the Royal Navy and its wider community since 1954.