Construction for RRS Sir David Attenborough has formally begun after Sir David Attenborough kickstarted the opening ceremony by laying the ship’s keel in Merseyside today.
The UK’s £200m research ship will cruise around the polar regions to investigate the impacts climate change has on the oceans. It is commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
Attenborough launched the traditional maritime “keel-laying” process by commencing the first 100-tonne hull unit to be lifted to the construction berth by crane.
Speaking at the ceremony, he said it was an “honour” to be invited to the keel-laying ceremony.
“The Polar Regions are not only critical for understanding the natural world but they also have an enormous appeal for journalists, broadcasters and the public.
“I have had several opportunities to experience the power of these places first hand. This new ship will ensure that scientists have access to these enigmatic regions to uncover secrets that we can only imagine at this point. Scientists working on this new ship will inform everyone about our changing world for generations to come,” Attenborough added.
The vessel hit headlines after the winning vote for the boat’s name was Boaty McBoatface.
Despite the public’s strong favour for Boaty McBoatface, NERC and Science Minister, Jo Johnson, decided to opt for the more serious name, RRS Sir David Attenborough.
NERC research vessels have traditionally been named after British explorers such as RRS Ernest Shackleton, RRS Charles Darwin, or RRS James Cook.
Boaty McBoatface did make it to the ship, however. A smaller remote controlled autonomous submarine, which will be launched by RRS Sir David Attenborough to slip under ice sheets, has been named Boaty McBoatface.
RRS Sir David Attenborough is expected to set sail in 2019. ®