HMS Challenger (K07)

HMS Challenger (pennant number K07) was a British Navy diving support vessel, operational from 1984 to 1990.

United Kingdom
Name: HMS Challenger
Namesake: HMS Challenger (1858)
Ordered: 9 October 1979[1]
Builder: Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Greenock[2]
Launched: 19 May 1981[2]
Commissioned: 1983[1]
Decommissioned: 1990 (Royal Navy)
Fate: Sold, 1993
Notes: In Royal Navy Service, equipped with a TUMS (Towed Unmanned Submersible), and could carry and deploy LR5 submarine rescue submersible.
Name: MV Ya Toivo
Namesake: Andimba Toivo ya Toivo
Acquired: 2000
In service: December 2000
Identification: IMO number: 7907697
Status: In active service, as of 2010
Notes: Fitted out and operated as a Mining Vessel (Seabed Diamond extraction)
General characteristics (as built)
Type: Seabed Operations Vessel[2]
  • 6,500 t (6,397 long tons) standard
  • 7,185 t (7,072 long tons) full[2]
Length: 134.1 m (440 ft 0 in) o/a[2]
Beam: 18 m (59 ft 1 in)[2]
Draught: 5 m (16 ft 5 in)[2]
Speed: 15 knots approx.
Complement: 185[1]
Sensors and
processing systems:
Sonar: Plessey Type 193M[1]
Aviation facilities: Helicopter deck (in Namibian service)

Challenger had a saturation diving system allowing 12 divers to live in relative comfort in a large decompression chamber amidships.[4]


In 1979 a paper describing the design for HMS Challenger was presented at an Institute of Marine Engineering conference.[5]

HMS Challenger was a unique vessel in Royal Navy service, purpose built to support deep sea operations and saturation diving. Built by Scotts at Greenock, the ship was launched on 19 May 1981, but not commissioned until 1984, during a time when the Royal Navy was cutting back on expenditure. The consequence was that the £80m Challenger was seen as an extravagance that the Admiralty could not afford.[1] After only a few years service, in 1990 the ship was laid up and offered for sale. The total cost for the construction of the ship was also increased by various errors and delays during construction.

In 1993 the ship was purchased by a company, Subsea Offshore, to be converted for work decontaminating hazardous waste dumped in the Baltic Sea and North Atlantic. By 1996 the ship was still laid up and may never been used by Subsea.

In following years the navy used other DP diving vessels for its diving work including the MV Seaforth Clansman hired from Seaforth Maritime, which had been used while Challenger was being built.[4]

The vessel was later bought by the Namibian Minerals Corporation (NAMCO), and fitted with equipment to recover diamonds from the sea floor.[6] The ship was converted at the Nauta Shipyard in Gdynia, Poland,[7] and made its first diamond recoveries in December 2000.[6] The ship was bought by De Beers in April 2003 when it offered US$20 million for several assets, among them HMS Challenger.[8]

See also


  1. Jane's Fighting Ships 1983-84. p. 602. ISBN 0-7106-0774-1.
  2. "HMS Challenger". Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  3. "Ruston Diesels for the 80s". Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  4. Mike Crichley (1982). British Warships and Auxiliaries. Maritime Books. p. 58.
  5. (Dynamic Positioning Conference)
  6. "Floating diamond-recovery vessel performing well". Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  7. "Stocznia Remontowa Nauta : M/V Ya Toivo (ex-Challenger)". Archived from the original on 10 January 2005. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  8. "De Beers Marine Namibia Buys Namco Mining Assets For $20M". Archived from the original on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
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