RRS Sir David Attenborough icebreaker

RRS Sir David Attenborough icebreaker cruise ship

Cruise line
UK (Icebreakers)

RRS Sir David Attenborough icebreaker current position

RRS Sir David Attenborough icebreaker current location is at North East Atlantic Ocean (coordinates 53.38573 N / -3.01125 W) cruising The AIS position was reported 1 minute ago.

Current Position

Specifications of RRS Sir David Attenborough icebreaker

Year built2020 new ship
Flag state Falkland Islands
BuilderCammell Laird (Merseyside, Birkenhead, England)
Building costGBP 200 million (USD 250 million)
OwnerUK government (NERC)
OperatorBritish Antarctic Survey (BAS)
Speed13 kn / 24 kph / 15 mph
Length (LOA)129 m / 423 ft
Beam (width)24 m / 79 ft
Gross Tonnage1500 gt

RRS Sir David Attenborough icebreaker Review

Review of RRS Sir David Attenborough icebreaker

RRS Sir David Attenborough is a British icebreaking vessel (currently under construction). After its completion and commissioning in 2020, the icebreaker is used as a logistics (research/survey/cargo) supply ship serving British Antarctica-based scientific stations with roundtrip departures from Port Stanley (Falkland Islands). RRS stands for "Royal Research Ship".

Royal research ships are the UK's merchant navy vessels conducting scientific research for the British Government (HMG). The list of organizations 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 has required a vessel to be designated as RRS. The UK's current fleet of Royal Research Ships includes the following 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 (2020).

RRS Sir David Attenborough icebreaker ship

RRS Sir David Attenborough ship was ordered by the British Government to replace two of the UK's existing polar vessels (operated under charter) - RRS James Clark Ross (1990) and RRS Ernest Shackleton (1995). The vessel is named after Sir David Frederick Attenborough (1926) - British broadcaster and naturalist, best known as the writer and presenter of "The Life Collection" (24-DVD box set by BBC Natural History Unit).

The ship's construction started in July 2016. In 2014, the British Government announced funding for an icebreaker construction project for BAS (British Antarctic Survey). The new icebreaker is fully equipped with latest technology instrumentation for polar research purposes.

RRS Sir David Attenborough icebreaker ship model

The ship design was developed by the private contractor Houlder Ltd (basic design, facility configuration, consultation). In 2015, BAS contracted Rolls-Royce Marine to provide the ship's final (detailed) design. The British shipbuilding company Cammell Laird (shipyard Birkenhead, England) was selected for the vessel's construction. The ship's keel-laying ceremony was held on October 17, 2016.

Sir David Attenborough icebreaker vessel details

The icebreaker features latest technology equipment for polar surveys (acoustic, seismic, subsea), including ADCP (acoustic), echo sounder, biological echo sounder, biological sonar, omnidirectional sonar, USBL, telemetry and net monitoring systems, onboard meteo weather station, cargo handling facilities, airborne robots, scientific moon pool, ROVs (remotely operated underwater vehicle / robotic submarines), marine gliders, Kayaks (large-capacity inflatable boats).

new UK icebreaker ship design

Other onboard facilities include electric winches (mechanical devices), containerized labs and workshops, dedicated scientific facilities (biosciences, geology and geophysical, oceanographic and atmospheric science), passenger staterooms, general lounge (mess hall), galley (kitchen), bar lounge, conference room (doubling as library), sauna room, fitness (gym room with exercise equipment), laundries, hospital (resident doctor).

  • The ship is powered by Rolls-Royce marine diesel engines (model "Bergen B33:45"), of which two 9-cylinder (power output 5400 kW) and two 6-cylinder) (power output 3600 kW).
  • Propulsion is Rolls-Royce (diesel-electric) with 2-shafts, 5-bladed (4,5 m / 14,8 ft diameter) controllable pitch propellers.
  • Rolls-Royce Marine is also the supplier of the ship's automation and control systems, as well of its dynamic positioning system, the Unified Bridge and deck handling systems.
  • Displacement tonnage: 12,790 tons
  • Max Draught: 7 m (23 ft)
  • Icebreaking capacity: 2,5 m (8 ft). Ship's speed when breaking through 1 m (3 ft) thick ice is 3 knots (5,6 kph / 3,5 mph).
  • Ice-class DNV GL ICE-05 (hull)
  • Range: 35,000 km (22,000 ml)
  • Endurance: 60 days

The ship has one fore-located helipad (helideck and hangar) with capacity 2 small-sized helicopters. Two lifeboats are positioned portside and starboard, each with capacity 90 people. The boats are UK-built and can be operated at temperatures down to -35 C (-31 F).

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 (60 passengers) is accommodated on the ship in 2-3-4-berth staterooms. Each passenger cabin is equipped with en-suite bathroom (WC-shower-washbasin). Cabins shouldn't be locked while the ship is at sea (only when in port).

Note: In the case of poor AIS coverage, tracking the vessel's current location is 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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On August 21, 2017, the ship's stern section (aka Block 10) left the A&P Tyne shipyard and on August 31 was delivered to Cammell Laird's shipyard (Birkenhead, England). Commissioned by NERC, the polar research vessel is constructed by the shipbuilding company Cammell Laird (UK's largest ship repair and vessel conversion company). A&P Tyne's engineers and manufacturers invested over 175,000 man-hours to construct the 899-ton stern section (length 23 m / 75 ft, width 24 m / 79 ft).

On July 14, 2018, was the ship's launch (float out from drydock), attracting numerous spectators at Albert Dock and Otterspool Park (Liverpool side of the river).

The Rolls-Royce Bergen B33:45 engines (two 9- and two 6-cylinder) provide both propulsion and electric power generation. These engines run on ULSD (ultra-low-sulfur diesel) fuel and are fitted with Selective Catalytic Reduction and electronic management systems. The icebreaker complies with IMO's both standards - Tier 2 and Tier 3.

In order to allow underwater survey works, the ship design required the lowest possible levels of underwater radiated noise. This was accomplished by using modern diesel generator sets providing power to the vessel's electrical system and batteries (5 MW peak effect capacity). Using batteries additionally reduces fuel consumption, emissions, and vibrations. The risk of sea pollution is also reduced by using electrical instead of hydraulic winches.

The vessel (IMO number 9798222) is Falkland Islands UK-flagged (MMSI number 740405000) and registered in Port Stanley.

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