A major milestone in the build of the UK's state-of-the-art polar research ship was reached on Saturday 14 July 2018, when the 129m-long, 10,000 tonne hull of the RRS Sir David Attenborough launched into the River Mersey for the first time.
Once in the river, tugs will tow hull number 1390 to Cammell Laird's wet basin for the next stages of construction. The polar research ship is scheduled to come into operation in 2019.
Shipyard workers, engineers, scientists and maritime industry experts gathered with special guest speakers to celebrate this remarkable engineering achievement, including world-renowned broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, who said “Britain began exploring the Antarctic over a century ago when it seemed to be an empty wilderness of little importance to the world as a whole. Now we recognize that what happens at the poles is of the greatest importance to everyone, everywhere. The UK and the British Antarctic Survey have been making discoveries in both regions that enable us to better understand these global processes and this wonderful new research ship will enable British scientists to continue their crucial work in both the Arctic and Antarctic for decades to come.”
Commissioned by NERC, built by Cammell Laird and operated by the British Antarctic Survey, this is the largest civilian ship to be built in the UK for 30 years.
The new research ship is part of a government polar infrastructure investment program designed to keep Britain at the forefront of world-leading research in Antarctica and the Arctic. Launched in the summer of the Year of Engineering, this commitment represents the UK government's largest investment in polar science since the 1980s.
Keynote speaker the Rt Hon Claire Perry MP, Minister of State for Energy & Clean Growth, said “This incredibly exciting event marks the next stage in the construction of this remarkable new polar research ship. The RRS Sir David Attenborough will use sophisticated technology to monitor polar activity and will help strengthen our position at the forefront of climate and ocean research. The government's £200 million investment in polar research will allow us to gain a crucial insight into polar oceans to combat the devastating effects of climate change, and through our commitment to clean growth, we are putting vital science and innovation to mitigate global warming at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy.”
Cammell Laird CEO John Syvret CBE said “The launch of the RRS Sir David Attenborough is a really important milestone in the build program, and it is a great day for the Cammell Laird team. We have said that this Cammell Laird generation is proud of its heritage and is determined make its own history, and the launch of RSS Sir David Attenborough polar research ship underpins this commitment and ambition.”
“I want to thank NERC, British Antarctic Survey, Rolls Royce, Lloyds Register, Houlder Offshore and the entire supply chain for their commitment and support. This is one team, 'team UK', working in partnership to deliver a unique ship with unique capabilities and capacity. I also want to thank our workforce and their families as well as Wirral Borough Council, the Rt Hon Frank Field and all in the community who have supported Cammell Laird on our journey to date.”
“We are now back in the premier league of the shipbuilding world, it has been a herculean effort by all to get here, this launch raises the brand profile and as a result provides increased global recognition, which bodes well for the future.”