26 March, 2019

After months in dry dock installing scientific equipment, fitting the propellers and painting, our new polar ship takes to the water for the first time since the hull was launched in July last year.

On Saturday 23 March the RRS Sir David Attenborough was moved successfully from the dry dock to the wet basin at Cammell Laird, where the ship is being built.

The process began with the ‘float up’, where the dry dock is flooded to lift the ship into the optimal position for towing. It took a total of 5 hours to fill the dock with water, and raise the ship so that it could clear the docking blocks and enter the river safely.

The RRS Sir David Attenborough being guided into the wet basin at Cammell Laird Shipyard in Birkenhead. Photo credit: Jon Payne.

Following this, three tugs helped guide the RRS Sir David Attenborough through the River Mersey and into the wet basin at the shipyard. The move took approximately 2.5 hours from the dry dock gate opening until securely mooring in the wet basin and was carefully planned to optimise conditions and tides.

The new polar ship being towed from the River Mersey into the wet basin. Photo credit: John Nicholson.

Transporting the RRS Sir David Attenborough to the wet basin is a significant step in the construction process as it marks the completion of the external structures and the installation of all the hull-mounted equipment.

Now the ship is in the wet basin, fitting out will continue. This includes installing electric cabling, equipment and furnishing to complete the interior spaces. In addition, the ship will undergo a series of tests to ensure the switchboards, generator and systems such as the bridge dynamic positioning and main propulsion are operating correctly, ready for the trials period.

Fitting out of the interior of the ship will continue while she is in the wet basin. Photo credit: John Nicholson.