17 Mar 2016
16 Apr 2016
The #NameOurShip campaign is launched
Ding, ding! We've reached our destination

About the Ship

Breaking new ground

Our new polar research vessel will be the UK’s largest and most advanced research ship yet. She will allow scientists to carry out research safely and efficiently even through the harsh winter months. She will stay at sea for longer and carry more scientists and technicians.

Her state-of-the-art capabilities will take science to new places, giving fresh insights into our fragile polar environments and how our planet works. Her flexible labs and equipment will allow our scientists to take full advantage of the latest robotic, satellite and underwater monitoring technology. She will help us understand how the ice is evolving as our climate changes, and the consequences for global sea-level rise.

Our Ship

Our research ships provide a platform for scientists to study across a wide range of scientific fields. From monitoring the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet to looking at ocean circulation to investigating the diversity of marine life, our research ships are kept busy throughout the year. Our new polar research vessel will be able to endure up to 60 days in sea-ice to enable scientists to gather observations and data. She will be the first British-built polar research vessel with a helideck, opening up access to new locations for our scientists. She will be one of the most sophisticated floating research laboratories operating in the polar regions.

Off the ship, robotic submarines and marine gliders will collect data on ocean conditions and marine biology and deliver it to scientists working in the ship's laboratories. Airborne robots and on-board environmental monitoring systems will provide detailed information on the surrounding polar environment.

Aurora Borealis

By the Numbers

  • 200,000,000 The cost of the ship in ┬ús
  • 129 The length of the ship in metres, longer than a football pitch
  • 24 The width of the ship in metres
  • 15,000 The weight of the ship in tonnes
  • 20 The number of labs, stores and workshops on board
  • 9 The ship will carry 9 double-decker buses worth of scientific equipment
  • 19,000 The distance in miles the ship will travel without stopping, more than half way around the world
  • 60 The number of days the ship will travel without stopping
  • 1 The ship will be able to blast through ice up to a metre thick
  • 2 The number of small helicopters the ship will carry with its helipad and hangar
  • 90 The number of people the ship will accommodate, including 30 crew and 60 scientists and support staff
  • 500 The number of UK jobs building the ship will create
  • 2019 The year the ship is due to become operational

The RRS James Clark Ross, which was launched by HM the Queen in 1990

Launching in 2019

Our new polar research vessel is being built in Birkenhead by Cammell Laird. The decision followed a 12-month competitive tender process that involved bids from companies in the UK, Europe and the Far East. This project will secure jobs and apprenticeships and provide a significant economic boost to Merseyside. The shipyard is expected to cut steel in autumn 2016 and deliver the next generation polar research vessel ready for operation by 2019.

The ship will be the first British-built polar research vessel with a helideck to open up new locations for science and will be one of the most sophisticated floating research laboratories operating in the polar regions. Tonne for tonne, the UK will have the most advanced oceanographic research vessel fleet in the world.