Construction milestone for RRS Sir David Attenborough
A major feat of engineering has taken place with the stern section of a new polar research ship for Cambridge and Britain, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, being transported by barge from Hebburn-based shipyard A&P Tyne (Newcastle), part of A&P Group, to Cammell Laird’s shipyard in Birkenhead.
The new ship is a major UK government investment in frontier science. Commissioned by NERC and built by Cammell Laird Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders to a Rolls-Royce design, the RRS Sir David Attenborough will be operated by British Antarctic Survey – headquartered in Cambridge – when the ship enters service in 2019.
British Antarctic Survey’s director of operations, Tim Stockings said: “We’re really excited at seeing our new ship taking shape. The ship represents an important partnership with UK industry to deliver world-leading science for the UK and beyond. The load out of the stern section is another incredible milestone in this amazing project.”
The transportation of the 899 tonne steel block (known as Block 10) - which is the equivalent weight of 71 London double decker buses and more than 23 metres long and 24 metres wide – is a major engineering challenge and a significant milestone in the build.
John Syvret, the CEO of both Cammell Laird and A&P Group said: “The construction of the blocks by the A&P Group, as a contractor to Cammell Laird, is a tremendous showcase for British shipbuilding and engineering.
“The RRS Sir David Attenborough ship build contract facilitates this cooperation where positive commercial benefits have been achieved.
“This is precisely the kind of collaboration that can help rebuild the commercial shipbuilding industry and provide thousands of highly-skilled jobs.
“What we are doing is providing proof of concept of the strategy outlined in Sir John Parker’s National Shipbuilding Strategy report commissioned by the Government.
“By investing in UK shipyards, and encouraging shipyards to work together, the UK can dramatically ramp up the number of ships it builds, converts and repairs, for the commercial and naval sectors at home and abroad.
“The impact on job and wealth creation would, in turn, be massive and investment could be ploughed into young people, skills, facilities and communities.”
David McGinley, managing director of A&P Group, which fabricated block 10 added: “This project is the very epitome of how the UK’s ship building industry can work together to not only deliver the best-in-class engineering and fabrication but also to hone and nurture the very best talent and skills.
“As one of the country’s leading fabrication businesses we’ve been actively involved in many major projects for the commercial marine, defence, oil and gas, subsea and offshore wind sectors and it’s a privilege and honour to add such a high profile and important research ship to the list.”
Once securely ashore, work at Birkenhead began on joining Block 10 to its neighbouring blocks under construction in Cammell Laird’s construction hall.