The 300-million-U.S.-dollar vessel, able to break through ice and despatch robotic submarines, is to be built at the Cammell Laird shipyard at Birkenhead on the River Mersey. It will be the first complete ship to be built at the 187-year-old shipyard for many years after Cammell Laird beat off competition from rival bidders in Europe and Asia.
The British government said the ship will maintain Britain’s position firmly at the forefront of climate and ocean research.
The decision, announced by Minister of State for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson, follows a 12 month competitive tender. The contract will create 400 jobs at the Birkenhead yard, including 60 new apprentices.
Johnson said: “Britain has long been a pioneer in ocean science, shipbuilding and manufacturing.
Cammell Laird’s success in this competition is testament to this expertise and our commitment to continue pushing the boundaries in marine science.”
Cammell Laird Chief Executive John Syvret said: “Being selected in a global tender to undertake such an exciting and major infrastructure project is fantastic news for our workforce, the local region and the UK. We look forward to helping the UK explore the depths of the ocean and push the boundaries of UK science.”
The shipyard is expected to start work on the contract next month and deliver the next generation polar research vessel ready for operation by 2019. It is being built for NERC, Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council.
In April 2014, the government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills endorsed the business case for a new British polar research vessel.
The new vessel, to be operated for NERC by the British Antarctic Survey, will be an ice-capable, multi-role polar research and logistics ship, designed to undertake leading edge multi-disciplinary science in both polar regions and to resupply Britain’s Antarctic stations. The ship will also be able to carry helicopters.
NERC said 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. Tonne for tonne, the UK will have the most advanced oceanographic research vessel fleet in the world, added NERC.
NERC, funded mainly by the British government’s Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, also receives support from other government departments, with research co-funded by private and public-sector partners.
The council supports 3,000 scientists and 1,000 PhD students, 1,000 research projects and 60 British or international programs. Enditem