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UK Shipyard Cammell Laird New Polar Research Ship Named RRS Sir David Attenborough

26th September 2019
UK shipyard Cammell Laird located on Merseyside is where the newbuild RRS Sir David Attenborough is to be named at 2pm today. WATCH LIVE Link see below. UK shipyard Cammell Laird located on Merseyside is where the newbuild RRS Sir David Attenborough is to be named at 2pm today. WATCH LIVE Link see below. Photo: BAS-twitter

In the UK, the newest polar research ship is to be formally named the RRS Sir David Attenborough today by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The royals will follow tradition by smashing a bottle of champagne against the hull of the marine science research vessel.

Special guest Sir David Attenborough will attend the naming ceremony which will be live-streamed from 13:30 on the BAS website: www.bas.ac.uk/live 

A three-day public celebration, hosted at the shipyard by British Antarctic Survey and Cammell Laird, aims to inspire and inform people about polar science, engineering and technology – and why it matters to everyday life. The event is focussed on our future – young people will play a role in the celebrations. Primary school students from the STEM Polar Explorer Programme will meet the Duke and Duchess as they take a private tour of the ship. Local primary schools that have been studying the Antarctic and climate change will take part in a ‘penguin parade’.

Commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) - part of UK Research and Innovation, built by Cammell Laird and operated by British Antarctic Survey, this new research platform will transform how ship-borne science is conducted in the Polar Regions. It is part of a major Government polar infrastructure investment programme (a total of £300M) designed to keep Britain at the forefront of world-leading research in Antarctica and the Arctic.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore says: “This is an incredibly exciting moment in our scientific history. The RRS Sir David Attenborough will allow us to make a major leap forward in our understanding of the environment.

“As the first G7 nation to legislate for net zero carbon emissions, it is vital that we invest in scientific efforts that will help us deliver on this. From our world leading capability in earth observation satellites to our ground-breaking research into plastic-eating enzymes, the UK continues to lead by example as a truly green economy.

“This new vessel is an incredible feat of engineering. But it also recognises one of our most respected and admired figures - Sir David Attenborough. Nobody has done more than David to spread the message that we should understand and protect our planet, and I'm delighted that he is being honoured in this naming ceremony.”

Professor Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair NERC, says: “This is an exciting day for all of us as we celebrate the naming of the RRS Sir David Attenborough. Today's ceremony marks the start of an important era that will help ensure world-class polar and deep ocean science in the decades to come. While the Polar Regions might seem remote to the UK, it is vital to understand that the poles are where we first see the impact of global environmental changes.”

Sir David Attenborough says: “This is the third milestone event that I have attended during the construction of this superb ship, and I have enjoyed watching progress from keel-laying till now. It is a remarkable engineering achievement. We all need this ship. Our world is changing and it’s clear that people around the world – especially the young – are becoming more and more concerned about a climate catastrophe. But human beings are resilient and skilful. If we pay attention to the scientific knowledge that those who will sail in this ship will gather, then we will stand a much better chance of finding a way to deal with what lies ahead.

In the coming weeks specialist engineers will complete the interior fit-out. A programme of technical and equipment testing will take place around the River Mersey and in deeper waters around the UK. Ice trials in the northern hemisphere are planned from March 2020, followed by a science rehearsal cruise from August 2020. The ship is scheduled to enter full service from October 2020.

Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director of British Antarctic Survey, says: “This magnificent ship will take UK scientists deep into the heart of the ice-covered polar seas. With state-of-the-art technology they will discover how drastically the polar oceans and the ice have been changed by our actions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere warns that the oceans are warming and becoming more acidic with CO2, glaciers are melting and sea level is rising across the planet, and the polar bears and penguins are losing their homes. This ship will take us to the ends of the Earth to help us understand our future world.”

Sir Mark Walport is Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation. He says: “The RRS Sir David Attenborough is one of the most advanced polar research vessels in the world and will transform how ship-borne science is conducted in the Polar Regions. It will provide scientists with state-of-the-art facilities to undertake crucial research into the impact of global change on our oceans, marine biodiversity and climate, and ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of polar science.”

Cammell Laird CEO John Syvret CBE, says: “This is a historic day for Cammell Laird, and todays naming of the RRS Sir David Attenborough, arguably one of the most complex vessels afloat, underpins our re-emergence to the premier league of the global shipbuilding community. It has taken 20 years to regenerate this infrastructure, capability and capacity, and I am extremely proud of all who have worked tirelessly to achieve today’s milestone. This vessel represents our greatest challenge to date, and I thank NERC and British Antarctic Survey for their trust and ongoing support to deliver this iconic vessel. This is the “Pride of Merseyside” and my special thanks go out to our workforce, TU, management and staff, together with our supply chain and all their families for their dedication and commitment to the project and the company.”

Broadcaster and naturalist, Sir David Attenborough says: “This is the third milestone event that I have attended during the construction of this superb ship, and I have enjoyed watching progress from keel-laying till now. It is a remarkable engineering achievement.

We all need this ship. Our world is changing and it’s clear that people around the world – especially the young – are becoming more and more concerned about a climate catastrophe. But human beings are resilient and skilful. If we pay attention to the scientific knowledge that those who will sail in this ship will gather, then we will stand a much better chance of finding a way to deal with what lies ahead.”

A new work – ‘Ark’ – by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage CBE, commemorates the naming. The poem will be premiered in front of thousands of people gathered on the shipyard quayside to watch the ceremony.

The British Pobjoy Mint has created a commemorative £2 coin featuring the ship and a 50p coin featuring the autonomous submersible Boaty McBoatface.

A business breakfast event - Meeting the 1.5 degree challenge. Can innovation in low carbon technologies create a safe and sustainable future for polar buildings and ships?

Chaired by: Financial Times’s award-winning associate editor and business columnist Pilita Clark.

The naming ceremony kicks off a three-day immersive festival of science, engineering and ship building. ‘Ice Worlds’ will bring the Polar Regions to life with over 20 exhibition stands. The festival will be adjacent to the RRS Sir David Attenborough in the Cammell Laird shipyard.

Friday 27 September is set aside for pre-registered schools.

Saturday 28 September is a day for families. A few tickets are still available here: 

Published in Marine Science
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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