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VIDEO: New U.K. polar research ship starts sea trials

Written by Nick Blenkey
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RRS Sir David Attenborough at Liverpool Cruise Terminal [Credit: Richard Turner@BAS]

The U.K.’s most advanced polar research ship – RRS Sir David Attenborough – yesterday left the Cammell Laird shipyard for two weeks of technical sea trials. In November, the shipyard is set to formally hand over the ship to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Operated by British Antarctic Survey (BAS) the new polar ship will transform U.K. research in the polar regions.

The commencement of sea trials marks a major milestone in the ship’s four-year build program. From laying the keel in October 2016, to the hull launch in July 2018 and a royal ceremonial naming in September 2019, more than 1,300 local personnel, 70 apprentices and many hundreds of specialist subcontractors and suppliers have been involved in constructing the 15,000 tonne vessel.

That royal naming ceremony, could have been rather different if NERC had gone along with a public opinion poll back in 2016 when “Boaty McBoatface” was the top choice for the vessel’s name. Instead, the NERC decided it to name the ship for veteran BBC naturalist Sir David Attenborough. However, the Boaty McBoatface name has been given to a high-tech remotely operated sub-sea vehicle carried by the research ship.

“Although the vessel’s construction is now complete, trials are a critical and final part of the program as they allow our engineers and the ship’s crew to put the vessel through its paces at sea,” said Linton Roberts, Director of Operations at Cammell Laird. “Over the next two weeks our engineers will assess and record important data about RRS Sir David Attenborough’s engineering performance to ensure every aspect of its operation is running safely and efficiently, before it embarks on further scientific equipment testing with BAS.”

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