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Ceremony Marks Start of Attenborough Polar Ship Construction


20 October 2016

Construction of the UK's new £200m polar research ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, formally began on Monday 17th October at Cammell Laird on Merseyside.

A ceremony saw a crane lower a near-100-tonne segment of keel on to blocks on the firm's slipway. The ship is intended to be at work by 2019. 

The vessel is already well known owing to the online vote to name it, which saw the public choose Boaty McBoatface.

An autonomous submarine deployed by the ship will be given that name instead.

The government decided that recognition of BBC TV presenter and naturalist Sir David Attenborough for the main vessel would be more fitting. 

"The name Boaty has been preserved and will be whizzing around Antarctica for years to come, alongside me I'm happy to say," chuckled the veteran broadcaster

And then, more seriously, he added: "I know that the work they will be doing onboard the new polar ship will be important, not only for science but for the whole world, because what happens down in the Antarctic is crucial for what happens to the climate of the Earth."

Cammell Laird believes the experience of delivering a complex project like the Attenborough will help it win future orders, not just for more research vessels but for a range of ships that might want to operate in the Arctic and the Antarctic.

There is growing interest, for example, in tourism at the poles; and regular cargo routes are likely to open up as the seasonal extent of sea-ice in the far north continues to diminish. 

The Birkenhead shipbuilder signed the contract to construct the 128m-long vessel last November.

The deal committed the firm to deliver the ice-breaker in 31 months. Design work, led by Rolls-Royce, resulted in the first steel being cut in July, with the first welded unit of "Hull 1390" now ready to go on its blocks.

Source: BBC News