Attenborough research ship is launched

The new ship, named after the broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, will be used for polar research.

The launch of the RRS Sir David Attenborough © Cammell Laird

A new research vessel, RRS Sir David Attenborough, was launched at Birkenhead on 14 July. It will be a key part of scientific research by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and will be used to study the marine life and ice in the Antarctic and Arctic.

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Watch a video of the launch (the countdown begins at 26.10):

“The Antarctic, far from being remote and desolate, is key to understanding what is happening in the entire globe and happening here,” says Attenborough. “What we do effects what goes on down there. So, understanding [the Antarctic] is of crucial importance to everyone in this country and in the world.”

Attenborough speaking at the launch of RRS Sir David Attenborough. © Cammell Laird
Attenborough speaking at the launch of RRS Sir David Attenborough. © Cammell Laird

In the original public vote, ‘Boaty McBoatface’ was selected as the ship’s name. However, after a decision to name the ship after the broadcaster was made, BAS decided to name the on-board mini submarine ‘Boaty McBoatface’ instead.

The £200m boat has been constructed with enhanced scientific research features which are more state-of-the-art than the two boats currently being used; RRS James Clark Ross and RRS Ernest Shackleton.

The RRS Sir David Attenborough. © Cammell Laird
The RRS Sir David Attenborough. © Cammell Laird

A new scientific feature on the boat is the ‘moon pool’ which is a shaft used for lowering and raising equipment (much of which can now be operated remotely) through the water and back onto the boat. This had previously been completed by passing equipment over the side of a boat which was notoriously unsafe.

In addition, the ship includes a selective catalytic reduction system which reduces diesel engine emissions and will have less of an environmental impact that previous systems.

The design of the ship means it is almost silent, reducing the disturbance to marine life.

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