The Cold Facts of the British Antarctic Vessel – Heavy Lift News
23 Jul 2018

The Cold Facts of the British Antarctic Vessel

The launch Of the Sir David Attenborough. photograph courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey  

Date 23 July 2018

A major milestone in the build of the UK’s state-of-the-art polar research ship was reached recently (Saturday 14 July 2018), when the 129m-long, 10,000 tonne hull of the RRS Sir David Attenborough was launched into the River Mersey.

Sir David Attenborough and Professor Dame Jane Francis, the Director of British Antarctic Survey, both pressed the green button to send the vessel down the slipway at the Cammell Laird Shipyard in Birkenhead.

The vessel first came to the attention of in August last year when the stern section was moved from Newcastle to Birkenhead and again in January this year when the complete hull was moved by ALE from the fabrication hall to the slipway using 216 axle lines of SPMT and 26 transport beams

The £200 million state-of-the-art polar research ship has been commissioned by NERC, the UK Natural Environment Research Council, built by Cammell Laird and will be operated by the British Antarctic Survey after delivery in 2109.

The new vessel is part of a government polar infrastructure investment programme designed to keep Britain at the forefront of world-leading research in Antarctica and the Arctic. Launched in the summer of the Year of Engineering, this commitment represents the UK government’s largest investment in polar science since the 1980s.

Did you know:

  • Before the launch the river had been dredged to ensure that the vessel did not bottom out.
  • the vessel has been built from one million pieces of steel
  • there are 30km of piping
  • 5,000 valves and
  • 450km of cabling on board
  • it is the largest civilian ship to be built in the UK for 30 years
  • a national campaign in Britain tried to get the vessel to be named Boaty McBoatface
  • one of the Autosub Long Range-class of autonomous underwater vehicles operated from the ship will now be named Boaty McBoatface
  • the vessel will be powered by Rolls-Royce diesel electric power plants which enable almost silent operation, ideal research into sea creatures without disturbance
  • it will be able to break through ice up to 1m thick.

Source: Cammel Laird & NERC

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