RRS Sir David Attenborough hull launched into River Mersey

16 July 2018
A major milestone in the build of the UK’s state-of-the-art polar research ship was reached at the weekend, Saturday 14 July 2018, when the 129-metre long, 10,000 tonne hull of the RRS Sir David Attenborough was launched into the River Mersey for the first time.
RSS Sir David Attenborough is launched into River Mersey © British Antarctic Survey

RSS Sir David Attenborough is launched into River Mersey © British Antarctic Survey

Ramboll’s Dave Grove, Director, attended the launch alongside shipyard workers, engineers, scientists and maritime industry experts who gathered with special guest speakers, including world-renowned broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, to celebrate this remarkable engineering achievement.

Viewing vantage points, from promenades at Liverpool’s Albert Dock and Otterspool Park, provided opportunities for members of the public to join the celebration with the ‘Splashdown’ occurring at 12.20pm. You can watch the Splashdown moment above (video courtesy of British Antarctic Survey), the entire launch ceremony can be viewed here.

Dave Grove commented: “It was fantastic to witness the hull launch alongside the team of experts who have worked and lived alongside each other to deliver this remarkable and unique ship. The commitment and passion from everyone involved in getting the ship to this stage is clear and made for an emotional send off. There is a strong team spirit and sense of family amongst all those involved and Ramboll is honoured to be a part of the extended family. We are looking forward to the next phases of RSS Sir David Attenborough’s journey which will see the ship head to Antarctica where Ramboll is working with BAS to prepare for its arrival.”

Appointed by NERC as Technical Advisors to BAS (British Antarctic Survey), Ramboll is providing specialist engineering and consultancy services over a seven-year period. Some of the work that Ramboll is undertaking includes technical research and design to develop options for the replacement or upgrade of existing wharf and jetties at BAS Antarctic and subantarctic research stations.  This will enable safe and efficient berthing of the new ship and its cargo tender. Alongside the wharf works, detailed design for redevelopment of Rothera, Signy, King Edward Point and Bird Island research stations is also underway.

Commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (part of UK Research and Innovation), built by Cammell Laird and operated by British Antarctic Survey, this is the largest civilian ship to be built in the UK for 30 years. Once in the river, hull number 1390 was towed to Cammell Laird’s wet basin for the next stages of construction. The polar research ship is scheduled to come into operation in 2019.

The new research ship 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.

Special guest Sir David Attenborough says: “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.”

Professor Sir Mark Walport is Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation: “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.”

Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director of British Antarctic Survey, says: “This is a fantastic moment for all of us.  At British Antarctic Survey our scientists, engineers, and support teams – especially those mariners and project managers who have been working closely with the amazing teams at Cammell Laird – are tremendously excited to reach this milestone.  It is an incredible achievement, and one that everyone in the country can be proud of.”

Cammell Laird CEO John Syvret CBE, says: “The launch of the RRS Sir David Attenborough is a really important milestone in the build programme, and it is a great day for the Cammell Laird team. We have said that this Cammell Laird generation is proud of its heritage and is determined make its own history, and the launch of Sir David Attenborough Polar Research Ship underpins this commitment and ambition.

I want to thank NERC, British Antarctic Survey, Rolls Royce, Lloyds Register, Houlder Trust and the entire supply chain for their commitment and support.  This is one team, ‘team UK’ working in partnership to deliver a unique ship with unique capabilities and capacity. I also want to thank our workforce and their families as well as Wirral Borough Council, the Rt Hon Frank Field and all in the community who have supported Cammell Laird on our journey to date. We are now back in the premier league of the shipbuilding world, it has been a herculean effort by all to get here, this launch raises the brand profile and as a result provides increased global recognition, which bodes well for the future.”

Project Details

Ramboll. RRS Sir David Attenborough. Image courtesy of British Antarctic Survey

British Antarctic Survey

Appointed by NERC as Technical Advisors to BAS (British Antarctic Survey), Ramboll is providing specialist engineering and consultancy services for seven years. Delivering a host of projects in the Antarctic region and in the UK, BAS and its Technical Advisors are preparing for one of the world’s most advanced Polar research ships - the RRS Sir David Attenborough (SDA), which will be ready for operation in 2019.


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