NATURALIST’S NAME­SAKE LAUNCHED

Boating NZ - - Boatworld -

The UK’S new po­lar ex­plorer – the £200m RRS David At­ten­bor­ough – slipped with­out fuss into the River Mersey ear­lier this year, with the man she was named af­ter do­ing the hon­ours. The 92-year-old Sir David At­ten­bor­ough says hav­ing the 129m ship named af­ter him is the great­est of hon­ours.

When plans for its con­struc­tion were first an­nounced, the Bri­tish pub­lic was in­vited – in an on­line poll – to vote on a name, and fa­mously (ir­rev­er­ently?) opted for Boaty Mcboat­face. But au­thor­i­ties de­murred.

Says Bri­tish Antarc­tic Sur­vey di­rec­tor Jane Fran­cis: “This is a se­ri­ous sci­ence ship that re­quired the name of a se­ri­ous sci­en­tist. Its name recog­nises all the love and es­teem the Bri­tish pub­lic holds for Sir David At­ten­bor­ough.”

Still, on­board is a yel­low sub­ma­rine – which is named Boaty Mcboat­face. It can dive to depths of 4,000m to gather data about the tem­per­a­ture/salin­ity of the ocean and cur­rents.

The ship’s mis­sion in­cludes in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether warm wa­ters are melt­ing the glaciers and ice shelves of the Antarc­tic from be­low. She’s equipped with a unique ‘moon pool’, a 4m2 ver­ti­cal shaft through the ship. This en­ables sci­en­tists to ac­cess the open ocean even when the ship is sur­rounded by ice.

The largest com­mer­cial ship built in Bri­tain in some 30 years, the RRS David At­ten­bor­ough will re­place the James Clark Ross and the Shack­le­ton, which between them have al­most 50 years’ ser­vice in sup­port of UK po­lar sci­ence.

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