8 February, 2021

HOLYHEAD. On Sunday 7 February the UK’s most advanced polar research ship – RRS Sir David Attenborough – left Holyhead for sea trials. 

The RRS Sir David Attenborough will spend the next two weeks testing anchoring, manoeuvring and dynamic positioning, as well as other engineering systems, such as fresh water making, that cannot be tested while in port. The trials will primarily take place in and around the Irish Sea, although some may take place on the West Coast of Scotland and the Celtic Sea. 

A view of a large body of water in front of a window
View of the sunrise from the Bridge of the RRS Sir David Attenborough. Photo: Randy Sliester

Commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council and operated by British Antarctic Survey, the new polar ship will transform UK research in the polar regions. Its missions are critical for understanding and making sense of our changing climate.  

After the sea trials, the ship will then return to Holyhead, before heading to the Arctic for extensive ice trials. In November will make its maiden voyage to Antarctica.  

This multidisciplinary research platform will transform how ship-borne science is conducted in the polar regions and provide scientists with state-of-the-art facilities to research the oceans, seafloor, ice and atmosphere. 

A large ship in a body of water
RRS Sir David Attenborough off the coast of Holyhead. Photo: Cpt Will Whatley

Captain Will Whatley says 

This is another exciting milestone in the commissioning of the RRS Sir David Attenborough. During these trials, we will put the ship through its paces and further develop our understanding of the ship’s performance and capabilities. 

In these initial sea trials, we are setting out to prove the capability of the ship’s systems and train the crew in the operation of the shipboth aspects are key parts of our preparation for the spring ice trials in the Arctic. One of the tests for the ship will be making sure the ship can handle some stormy weather!