Category Archives: HMCE Transport

UK Border Force Cutter – Protector – new or old?

Update 01 August 2014

I am pleased to be able to include an additional article relating to HMC Protector  which has been provided by IHS Global Limited who own the copyright. Please see the attached PDF JNI_25 March 2014

Is the Border Force Protector a new vessel or has it got a history?

Actually this cutter which is new to the UK Border Force, had a previous 12 years of life with the Finnish Border Guard During  a cost cutting exercise and changes to the Border Guards operations, the FBG decided to sell three ships (called Tellkä, Tavi and Tiira respectively).

Finnish Border Guard Livery


Photo – courtesy of The Finnish Border Guard

UK Border Force Livery


Photo – courtesy of

Also it would seem that Tavi did not see a lot of use during the time spent with the FBG, and apparently could not operate properly in ice conditions due to not being strengthened for navigation in ice. Also its oil recovery capacity was not deemed adequate for dealing with the increased traffic in the Gulf of Finland.

An advert of the intended sale was therefore placed in the largest newspaper in Finland called the Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday 27 January 2013.

Finnish Border Guard

For those readers interested in more background information about the FBG have a read at this excellent and informative article

HMC Protector

Photo – courtesy of



Photo – courtesy of

The ship specification

The advert stated that the 3 ships were suited and equipped for patrolling, SAR and other related activities, in coastal areas and at sea. The length is 49.5 metres, with a draught of 3.7 metres, and a top speed of 20+ knots. They are equipped with 9 cabins and 18 bunks. They are considered to be approximately half way through their expected lifespan of 25 – 30 years


This ship was originally commissioned in 2002. It was fully fitted with guns and was able to carry depth charges, mines, etc. This was a requirement of the Ministry of Defence – Finland. The armaments have however been removed for its new role with the UK Border Force, who are able to call for assistance upon the fully armed ships of the Royal Navy if required during operations. It will however retain its gun mount foundations.

Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats

All the HM Cutters operated by the Border Force carries RHIB‘s. These are light-weight but high-performance and high-capacity boats, measuring approximately 7-metres. These are launched from the stern slipway.





HM Customs Cutter – Searcher – in the old HMC&E livery

HM Customs Cutter “Searcher”

HM Customs Cutter

HMC Searcher under a threatening sky.

A great maritime photo of HMC Searcher – in the old HM Customs livery.These vessels formerly operated by HM Customs and Excise are now under the control of the UK Border Force. The UKBF  was a successor to the UK Border Agency.


A new Customs Scanner for the Cayman Islands

A new Customs Scanner for the Cayman Islands

The process was put in place in 2010 for interested parties to lodge bids to provide a Mobile X-Ray Cargo Vehicle

The Invitation to Bid process can be perused here

The mobile, Non-Intrusive Inspection Systems (NIIS) scanner inspects a stationary container during the demonstration

In an attempt to fight crime and increase border security the Cayman Islands Government has spent more than ten percent of its entire budget on new equipment which includes the above mobile Customs Scanner costing around $3 million.

HM Customs new vehicle is a  Heimann Cargo Vision Mobile (HCVM) x-ray inspection system, which should enable complete scrutiny of containers entering and leaving Cayman. This vehicle has been anticipated for several years. Also the vehicle should be able to carry out non-intrusive checks of cars and small watercraft.

The large, mobile cargo scanner uses a colour-coded system to distinguish between organic and inorganic materials.

Before the state of the art scanner was purchased Customs Officers had to inspect containers manually after carrying out random checks, which meant many units came and went without ever being inspected. It was noted that several seizures of weapons had been found in containers secreted inside toys and household appliances.  The Cayman Islands Government felt that it was clear that gun smugglers were using the port as one of their means of smuggling in weapons and other illegal contraband.

It is hoped that the new system will clamp down on drug smuggling and guns. In addition it should also improve the revenue collection by enabling officers to check every container against what has been declared on its manifest.

Local police are hopeful that this new piece of equipment will enable Customs to directly assist the RCIPS in is fight against gun crime..