RRS Ernest Shackleton icebreaker

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RRS Ernest Shackleton icebreaker Review and Specifications

Specifications of RRS Ernest Shackleton icebreaker

Year built 1995  /  Age : 22
Flag state Falkland Islands
Builder Swan Hunter (Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, England)
Class diesel icebreaker (UK Antarctica research ship)
Owner GC Rieber Shipping (Bergen, Norway)
Operator British Antarctic Survey
Speed 14 kn / 26 kph / 16 mph
Length (LOA) 80 m / 262 ft
Beam (width) 17 m / 56 ft
Gross Tonnage 4028 gt
Passengers 50
Crew 30
Decks 6
Decks with cabins 2
Former names MV Polar Queen

Review of RRS Ernest Shackleton icebreaker

RRS Ernest Shackleton is an icebreaking vessel used primarily as a logistics (research / survey / cargo) supply ship serving Antarctica-based scientific stations. Departures are roundtrip from Port Stanley (Falkland Islands). When not in Antarctica, the icebreaker can be privately chartered for expedition cruises from the shipowner. RRS stands for "Royal Research Ship".

RRS Ernest Shackleton icebreaker ship

Royal research ships are the UK's merchant navy vessels conducting scientific research for the British Government (HMG). The list of organisations that are allowed to operate RRS vessels includes NERC (abbrev "Natural Environment Research Council"), BAS (abbrev "British Antarctic Survey") and NOC (abbrev "National Oceanography Centre"). However, a warrant from the British monarch is required a vessel to be designated as RRS. The UK's current fleet of Royal Research Ships includes the follwoing vessels (the year built in brackets): RRS James Clark Ross (1990), RRS Ernest Shackleton (1995), RRS James Cook (2007), RRS Discovery (2013) and RRS Sir David Attenborough (2019).

RRS Ernest Shackleton icebreaker ship

The Ernest Shackleton ship was launched under the name "MV Polar Queen". The shipowner GC Rieber Shipping is a Norwegian company headquartered in Bergen Norway. The company perates offshore and subsea support vessels, as well as marine seismic vessels. Some of its ships are operated under charter on logistics, research and polar cruise expeditions.

Since August 1999, the Ernest Shackleton ship is operated by BAS (British Antarctic Survey) on a long-term bareboat charter. The ship is named after Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) - a British polar explorer who led 3 British Antarctic expeditions - "Discovery Expedition" (1901-1903), "Nimrod Expedition" (1907-1909) and "Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition" (1914-1917).

RRS Ernest Shackleton icebreaker ship

The Ernest Shackleton ship gained worldwide popularity after it was chartered to Crystal Cruises to escort the cruise ship Crystal Serenity through the Canadian Arctic itinerary route Northwest Passage in 2016 (August 16 through September 16, from Seward Alaska to NYC New York).

Ernest Shackleton icebreaker vessel details

The icebreaker features an ice-strengthened double hull and ice-capacity up to 2,5 m (8 ft). The vessel has a cargo tender used for ship-to-shore operations (transfer of supplies) when it can't dock alongside. The list of onboard machinery and facilities includes:

RRS Ernest Shackleton icebreaker ship

  • Dry Lab (45 m2), Wet Lab (45 m2), 2 containerized labs (on the deck)
  • telescopic crane (aft, 10 tons), ROV crane (5 tons, on upper deck), cargo crane (30 tons), offshore crane: (50 tons)
  • dynamic positioning (AUT-R), hydrographic echo sounder, bottom mapping system (Simrad), sonar room
  • helipad (diameter 18 m / 60 ft, max helicopter weight 10 tons), upper cargo hold (can be used as hangar)
  • MOB-Boat (fast-speed rescue boat)
  • waste management equipment (oily water separator, incinerator, garbage compactor, waste water treatment plant)
  • two stabilising water tanks
  • TV-monitoring 9a total of 20 CCTV cameras)
  • The ship is poweret by two "Bergen Diesel BRM 6" marine engines (combined power output 5100 kW).
  • Propulsion is provided by three fixed thrusters (power output 608 kW each) plus one forward Azimuth thruster (power output 811 kW).
  • Displacement tonnage: 4028 tons
  • Deadweight tonnage: 1800 tons
  • Max Draught: 7 m (23 ft) fully loaded
  • Icebreaking capacity: 2,5 m (8 ft)
  • Ice-class DNV GL ICE-05
  • Range: 74,000 km (46,000 ml)
  • Endurance: 130 days
  • Capacity: 80 passengers and crew
  • Diesel fuel capaacity: 1380 m3
  • Aviation fuel capacity: 195 m3
  • Freshwater capacity: 165 m3
  • Fuel consumption: 9,5 tons 9diesel) per day at cruising speed 12 kn
  • The ship has one aft-located helipad but no onboard helicopter.
  • This icebreaking vessel undergoes refit / drydock maintenance annually.
  • For safety reasons, passengers (scientists, cruise tourists) are not allowed in the following areas and facilities (unless specific permission has been granted): Navigation Bridge, Engine Room, all machinery spaces, galley (kitchen), engineering workshops, crew areas (cabins, Crew Mess Room, Crew Bar).
  • Scientific staff is accommodated on the ship in 2-, 3- and 4-berth staterooms. Each of these passenger cabins is equipped with en-suite bathroom (shower, WC / vacuum flush toilets). Linens are changed weekly. The ship has a laundrette (passenger laundry facility with 2 washing machines and 2 tumble driers) additional to its main laundry room. Cabins shouldn't be locked while the ship is at sea (only when in port).
  • Among the ship's public rooms are Bar, Gym (exercise equipment), Sauna Room,  Green Room (lounge with TV), hospital (resident doctor).

Note: In case of poor AIS coverage, tracking the vessel's current location will be impossible. You can see the CruiseMapper's list of all icebreakers and ice-breaking research ships in the "itinerary" section of our Icebreakers hub. All states and their fleets are listed there.

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