11 July, 2018 Press releases, SDA

RRS Sir David Attenborough hull launch into River Mersey 14 July

Update 20 July 2018 – watch video of launch

A major milestone in the build of the UK’s state-of-the-art polar research ship is reached this weekend [Saturday 14 July 2018], when the 129-metre long, 10,000 tonne hull of the RRS Sir David Attenborough is 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 will gather with special guest speakers, including world-renowned broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, to celebrate this remarkable engineering achievement.

Viewing vantage points, from promenades at Liverpool’s Albert Dock and Otterspool Park, provide opportunities for members of the public to join the celebration.  The launch will be live-streamed from 11.00am on the BAS website: www.bas.ac.uk/live with the ‘Splashdown’ at 12.20pm.

Commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (part of UK Research and Innovation), built by Cammell Laird and operated by 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 programme 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 and Clean Growth says:

“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 £200m 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.”

Special guest Sir David Attenborough says:

“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 recognise 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.”

Professor Sir Mark Walport is Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, he says:

“The RRS Sir David Attenborough will deliver world-leading research to help tackle the environmental challenges of our age, including climate change and protecting our oceans.

“The work of Sir David has engaged millions of people across the planet with these issues and their impact.  The research ship named in his honour will make a vital contribution to addressing them.”

Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director of British Antarctic Survey, says:

“This is a fantastic moment for all of us.  At British Antarctic Survey our scientists, engineers, and support teams – especially those mariners and project managers who have been working closely with the amazing teams at Cammell Laird – are tremendously excited to reach this milestone.  It is an incredible achievement, and one that everyone in the country can be proud of.”

Cammell Laird CEO John Syvret CBE, says:

“The launch of the RRS Sir David Attenborough is a really important milestone in the build programme, 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 Sir David Attenborough Polar Research Ship underpins this commitment and ambition.

I want to thank NERC, British Antarctic Survey, Rolls Royce, Lloyds Register, Houlder Trust 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.”