ICT facilities

RRS Sir David Attenborough has enhanced satellite communications and data processing and storage systems to meet the increasing requirement for data-intensive operations.


The ship’s telephone and PA network, SeaQNet, is part of the BAS Cambridge network.

Communications will take place via VSAT satellite; the bandwidth will initially be 1.5-3 Mb/s, approximately double that available on RRS James Clark Ross.

Aboard ship, WiFi covers all locations (including cabins) on Deck 3 and above, with some locations on Deck 2 also covered.

Scientific computing

The vessel operates a system called SDANet, with a 10 Gb/s server connections and 1 Gb/s connections to desktop computers. Approximately 900 network ports will be distributed around the ship, and SDANet will be used for most communications with instruments aboard the ship.

There is uncommitted scientific wiring available on the ship for use in future applications.

Data displays

The RRS Sir David Attenborough has around 180 24-inch display screens distributed throughout the ship. This includes large video walls (2×2 and 4×3 screens), as well as two- and four-screen operator workstations in the main lab and winch control room. Each lab space also has several display screens.

There will be more than 30 sources for these displays, including the ship’s navigation systems, bridge displays and scientific computers.

The video walls and operator workstations have fibre optic cabling which allows for future upgrades to 4k usage. The single displays will initially operate using copper cabling which can support full HD (1920×1200) resolution and may also be upgradable to 4k.

Data management

While RRS James Clark Ross produces up to 3TB of data per research cruise, the new ship has significantly more instruments and expanded scientific capability on board. As such, the amount of data generated is expected to be significantly greater – up to several 100 TB per cruise.

The RRS Sir David Attenborough has a data back-up system onboard, so researchers cam protect the large volumes of research data collected while at sea. Data is initially stored on a disc before being backed up to tape libraries. Each tape can store up to 12TB of data per cartridge, or 30TB compressed – this means a lot of data can be packed into a very small footprint. Not only does this save space on the ship, it also makes it much easier to bring the data back to the UK.

Data logging systems with sufficient capacity for logging information from stream-based devices such as meteorological, oceanographic and navigational instruments will be installed on the ship. There is also be a central file server for instruments such as swath bathymetry, fisheries echosounders and the ADCP.


IceNet is a probabilistic, deep learning sea ice forecasting system developed by an international team and led by British Antarctic Survey and The Alan Turing Institute [Andersson et al., 2021]. …