RRS Sir David Attenborough–the UK’s Access to Antarctica

RRS Sir David Attenborough. Proto from Rolls-Royce

Thought I had posted about this ship earlier, but when I went to add an update from MarineLink on installation of the engines, I found that was not the case. RRS Sir David Attenborough is perhaps most famous as the subject of a social media search for a ship name that resulted in the most votes going to Boaty McBoatface.

It is expected to provide logistics support to support a British presence in Antarctica as well as break ice to a thickness of 1.5 meters at a minimum speed of 3 knots.

  • Displacement: 15,000 Gross Tons (only a little smaller than USCGC Healy, a little larger than Polar Star)
  • Length: 128.9 meters (423 feet)
  • Beam: 24 m (79 ft).
  • Draft: 7 m (23 ft)
  • Integrated propulsion and ship service engines/generators:  two 3,600 kW (4,800 hp) 6-cylinder Bergen B33:45L6A and two 5,400 kW (7,200 hp) 9-cylinder Bergen B33:45L9A main diesel generators, a 885 kW (1,187 hp) harbor generator and two 2,500 kW battery systems.
  • Propulsion motors: four 2,750 kW (3,690 hp) for 11,000kW or 14,760 HP (about half that of USCGC Healy and less than 20% that of Polar Star on turbines)
  • Range: 19,000 nautical miles (35,000 km; 22,000 mi) at 13 knots
  • Accommodations for 90 with a crew of 28.
  • Facilities to land a helo, but I have seen no indication of a hangar.

The ship will be owned by the British Natural Environment Research Council, to be operated by the British Antarctic Survey. It is expected to enter service in 2019.


7 thoughts on “RRS Sir David Attenborough–the UK’s Access to Antarctica

  1. In some sources, the icebreaking capability is reported as 3 knots in 1 m (3.3 ft) level ice instead of 1.5 m (5 ft). In fact, 5 feet sounds a bit much considering the propusion power (11,000 kW/14,760 hp) and vessel size (24 m/79 ft beam).

  2. After avoiding the embarrassment of having a vessel named Boaty McBoatFace and giving her a proper name, the Government threw a bone to the majority which had playfully voted for that nonsensical name by having one of the ship’s tenders officially named Boaty McBoatFace.

    • Not a tender, it’s the underwater drone thats been named Boaty McBoatface.

      It was also one of the best ideas NERC has come up with. They were smart enough to make sure that the T’s and C’s of the competition were that they had the final decision on the name. They got more (free) publicity as a result of that competition than they have had in their entire life cumulatively, which was the entire point.

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