The 10,000-tonne hull of the RRS Sir David Attenborough was launched into the River Mersey on Saturday, marking a major milestone in the build of the UK’s new state-of-the-art polar research ship.
The ship, which is under construction at the Cammel Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, is the largest civilian ship to be built in the UK in the last 30 years.
The £200 million polar research ship was commissioned by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council and will be operated by the British Antarctic Survey upon its delivery in 2019.
The ship became an internet meme in 2016 after NERC hosted an online naming contest for the vessel in which the name ‘Boaty McBoatface‘ was over overwhelmingly selected as the winner.
Participating in Saturday’s launch was Sir David Attenborough himself, the well-known English broadcaster, naturalist and actual person.
Once in the river, tugs towed the hull to Cammell Laird’s wet basin for the next stages of construction.
“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 recognize that what happens at the poles is of the greatest importance to everyone, everywhere,” said special guest Sir David Attenborough.
“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,” he added.
Once completed, the new research ship will be one of the most technology-advanced polar research vessels in the world, representing the UK government’s largest investment in polar science since the 1980s.
“This incredibly exciting event marks the next stage in the construction of this remarkable new polar research ship,” said keynote speaker Rt Hon Claire Perry MP, Minister of State for Energy & Clean Growth. “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 £200millionn 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,” Perry added.