The Government announced on 12 October 2015 that Cammell Laird in Birkenhead has been selected as the preferred bidder to build a state-of-the-art £200 million polar research ship that will maintain the UK’s position firmly at the forefront of climate and ocean research.
The decision follows a 12-month competitive tender process that involved bids from companies in the UK, Europe and the Far East. The winning 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.
Cammell Laird Chief Executive John Syvret said: “The new contract, which will be finalised later this year, is expected to secure 400 jobs at Cammell Laird and a further 100 jobs within the local supply chain.”
The new polar research ship, which will operate in both Antarctica and the Arctic, will be able to endure up to 60 days in sea-ice to enable scientists to gather more observations and data.
The ship will be the first British-built polar research vessel with a heli-deck to open up new locations for science and will be one of the most sophisticated floating research laboratories operating in the Polar Regions.
The new vessel follows in a long line of Royal Research Ships, including the RRS Discovery which departed from London to Southampton after docking on the Thames to mark NERC’s 50th anniversary.
The new ship will be operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and will be available to the whole UK research community, including for postgraduate training.