“RRS Sir David Attenborough” registered in Stanley | Polarjournal
“RRS Sir David Attenborough” is a Natural Environment Research Council research vessel operated by the British Antarctic Survey for both research and logistical support. The ship is named after Sir David Attenborough. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Britain’s new icebreaker, the “RRS Sir David Attenborough”, has been registered with the British Register of Shipping in Stanley, the main town in the Falkland Islands. The “RRS Sir David Attenborough” will replace the two existing polar ships “RRS James Clark Ross” and “RRS Ernest Shackleton”. The ship is named after the British broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Frederick Attenborough.

The research icebreaker “RRS Sir David Attenborough” has already made it onto a series of stamps issued by the British Antarctic Territory in 2018.

A decades-old tradition states that British Antarctic Survey (BAS) ships and aircraft are registered in the Falkland Islands. This underpins the ship’s role in providing scientific excellence in the Southwest Atlantic and Antarctica. In its scientific and logistical missions, the “RRS Sir David Attenborough” will regularly call at the overseas territories of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands and the British Antarctic Territory. RRS stands for “Royal Research Ship.”

The new icebreaker, commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council and operated by British Antarctic Survey, will transform UK research in the polar regions. Its tasks will be critical to understanding and comprehending our changing climate.

The “RRS Sir David Attenborough” will embark on its maiden voyage to Antarctica in November 2021 after an extensive programme of operational, scientific and ice trials. The new research icebreaker will be in operation all year round. The “RRS Sir David Attenborough” will spend the northern summer supporting research cruises in the Arctic and will be in Antarctica during the southern summer to conduct research programmes.

Nigel Phillips CBE was appointed Governor of the Falkland Islands and Her Majesty’s Commissioner for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands in September 2017. (Photo: FITV)

Nigel Phillips, Governor of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands said, “The link between the British Antarctic Survey and the British Overseas Territories in the South West Atlantic is mutually beneficial and the launch of the “RRS Sir David Attenborough” will continue this association into the future. Science is the key to evidence-based decision-making and must support the protection of our precious environment. The importance of this scientific platform can therefore not be underestimated. We look forward to welcoming the “RRS Sir David Attenborough” to her home port of Stanley and further strengthening our relationship with the British Antarctic Survey.”

To create public interest and support for the project, a national competition was held in 2016 for the naming. Much to the dismay of the organizers, one-third of the more than 124,000 votes favoured the name “Boaty McBoatface.” Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson then announced that the ship would be called “Sir David Attenborough”, although the name received fewer of the votes. The name “Boaty McBoatface” instead is to be used for one of the dive boats on board.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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