Scientific moon pool

RRS Sir David Attenborough is the first British polar research vessel to feature a scientific moon pool. This allows flexible and reliable deployment and retrieval of scientific equipment such as remotely operated vehicles and autonomous underwater vehicles.

A moon pool is a vertical shaft (~4m x 4m) running through the vessel and open to both the air and sea. Using the moon pool, scientists can lower and raise equipment more safely and easily in ice.

The Southern Ocean is notoriously brutal, with waves there among the largest in the world; the highest wave recorded to date was an incredible 23.8 metres – five times taller than a double decker bus. This means deploying instruments over the side of the ship is often too dangerous. However, the moon pool is in the centre, and most stable part, of the hull. Sheltered from the inclement weather, the ship can deploy instruments, such as remotely operated vehicles, in locations where it previously wasn’t possible. Importantly, as winds are predicted to strengthen in the coming decades, waves in the Southern Ocean are likely to get even higher, so having the facilities to operate safely into the future is even more important.

The moon pool will be used to deploy a range of equipment, in both sea ice and open water: