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Hull of polar research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough launched

Hull of polar research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough launched

The state-of-the-art new polar research ship, RRS Sir David Attenborough, was launched into the River Mersey for the first time on Saturday (14 July 2018), marking a major milestone in the preparation of the vessel.

World-renowned broadcaster Sir David Attenborough spoke at the launch event as the 129m long, 10,000 tonne hull was launched into the Mersey before tugs towed it to Cammell Laird’s wet basin for the next stages of construction before the ship is scheduled to come into operation in 2019.

The Rt Hon Claire Perry MP, Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, and Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, also spoke at the event.

The RRS Sir David Attenborough, which has been commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council, is the largest civilian ship to be built in the UK for 30 years and forms a key part of a government polar infrastructure investment programme designed to keep Britain at the forefront of world-leading research in Antarctica and the Arctic. 

Claire Perry said: "This incredibly exciting event marks the next stage in the construction of this remarkable new polar research ship. The RRS Sir David Attenborough will use sophisticated technology to monitor polar activity and will help strengthen our position at the forefront of climate and ocean research.

"The government's £200 millIon investment in polar research will allow us to gain a crucial insight into polar oceans to combat the devastating effects of climate change, and through our commitment to clean growth, we are putting vital science and innovation to mitigate global warming at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy."

Sir David Attenborough said: "Britain began exploring the Antarctic over a century ago when it seemed to be an empty wilderness of little importance to the world as a whole. Now we recognise that what happens at the poles is of the greatest importance to everyone, everywhere.

"The UK and the British Antarctic Survey have been making discoveries in both regions that enable us to better understand these global processes and this wonderful new research ship will enable British scientists to continue their crucial work in both the Arctic and Antarctic for decades to come."

Sir Mark Walport said: "The RRS Sir David Attenborough will deliver world-leading research to help tackle the environmental challenges of our age, including climate change and protecting our oceans. The work of Sir David has engaged millions of people across the planet with these issues and their impact. 

"The research ship named in his honour will make a vital contribution to addressing them. Today's milestone is also testament to the dedicated teams ensuring we design, build and operate a research ship capable of meeting these challenges."