Royals to officially name Cammell Laird-built polar research vessel

The vessel during construction

The UK’s new polar research ship will be formally named by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge later today.

The Royals will perform the naming ceremony of the RRS Sir David Attenborough at around 2pm today at Birkenhead shipyard Cammell Laird.

Special guest Sir David Attenborough will also attend.

It will herald a three-day public celebration, hosted at the shipyard by British Antarctic Survey and Cammell Laird, which aims to inspire and inform people about polar science, engineering and technology – and why it matters to everyday life.

Tomorrow, Friday, is set aside for pre-registered schools, while Saturday is a families day.

Today’s launch event is focused on our future – young people will play a role in the celebrations.

Primary school students from the STEM Polar Explorer Programme will meet the Duke and Duchess as they take a private tour of the ship.

Local primary schools that have been studying the Antarctic and climate change will take part in a ‘penguin parade’.

Commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) – part of UK Research and Innovation – built by Cammell Laird and operated by British Antarctic Survey, this new research platform will transform how ship-borne science is conducted in the Polar Regions.

It is part of a major Government polar infrastructure investment programme, worth a total of £300m, designed to keep Britain at the forefront of world-leading research in Antarctica and the Arctic.

Cammell Laird chief executive John Syvret said: “This is a historic day for Cammell Laird, and todays naming of the RRS Sir David Attenborough, arguably one of the most complex vessels afloat, underpins our re-emergence to the premier league of the global shipbuilding community.

“It has taken 20 years to regenerate this infrastructure, capability and capacity, and I am extremely proud of all who have worked tirelessly to achieve today’s milestone.”

He added: “This vessel represents our greatest challenge to date, and I thank NERC and British Antarctic Survey for their trust and ongoing support to deliver this iconic vessel.

“This is the ‘Pride of Merseyside’ and my special thanks go out to our workforce, trades unions, management and staff, together with our supply chain and all their families for their dedication and commitment to the project and the company.”

Broadcaster and naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, said: “This is the third milestone event that I have attended during the construction of this superb ship, and I have enjoyed watching progress from keel-laying till now. It is a remarkable engineering achievement.

“We all need this ship. Our world is changing and it’s clear that people around the world – especially the young – are becoming more and more concerned about a climate catastrophe.

“But human beings are resilient and skilful. If we pay attention to the scientific knowledge that those who will sail in this ship will gather, then we will stand a much better chance of finding a way to deal with what lies ahead.”

Prof Duncan Wingham, NERC executive chair NERC, said: “Today’s ceremony marks the start of an important era that will help ensure world-class polar and deep ocean science in the decades to come.”

Prof Dame Jane Francis, director of British Antarctic Survey, added: “This ship will take us to the ends of the Earth to help us understand our future world.”