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Royal naming ceremony for Sir David Attenborough

It was an historic day at Cammell Laird yesterday when the illustrious Birkenhead shipyard brought together broadcasting and real-life royalty for the naming ceremony of the new polar research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough, to be operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

The Royal event was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Sir David Attenborough himself, pictured above alongside BAS director Prof. Dame Jane Francis.

While some UK press chose to harp on the ship’s original jokey name chosen by public vote of ‘Boaty McBoatface’ - since adopted as the name of a mini-sub onboard - others marvelled at the fact this was the largest commercial ship built in the UK for more than 30 years. It was also arguably the yard’s biggest occasion since launch of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal in 1955, nearly 65 years ago.

“It is a remarkable engineering achievement,” said Sir David. “We all need this ship. Our world is changing and it’s clear that people around the world – especially the young – are becoming more and more concerned about a climate catastrophe.

“But human beings are resilient and skilful,” he continued. “If we pay attention to the scientific knowledge that those who will sail in this ship will gather, then we will stand a much better chance of finding a way to deal with what lies ahead.”

“This magnificent ship will take UK scientists deep into the heart of the ice-covered polar seas,” added Dame Jane Francis, who acted as Guest of Honour at the Seatrade Awards in London this May. “With state-of-the-art technology they will discover how drastically the polar oceans and the ice have been changed by our actions… and help us understand our future world.”

The interior fit-out of the ship will be completed by specialist engineers in coming weeks, before a programme of technical and equipment testing takes place. The Sir David Attenborough is scheduled to enter full service from October 2020.