Sir David Attenborough, the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) polar research research vessel, is due to enter service this week, with its powersystem set on fire for the first time today and advanced lifeboats in service. The ship, built at the Cammel Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, England, is the first British vessel to comply with the International Maritime Organization’s Polar Code regulations.
The floating laboratory, sir Richard Attenborough, named after the famous nature documentary maker, will carry 60 scientists and support staff in operation BAS in the Antarctic and Arctic. Captain 129.6 m (425 ft), beam 25 m (82 ft), 7.5 m (24 ft), drainage capacity of 12,790 tons (14098 tons) and cargo space of 4200 m3 (148,000 ft3).
As part of the completion process, the lifeboat for Attenborough has been commissioned. They can carry up to 90 people each, are located on specially designed slings and are mounted on either side of the ship. According to data from previous Arctic lifeboat search and rescue voyage slots, lifeboats and their hoists can operating at temperatures as low as -35 degrees Celsius (-31 degrees F).
In addition, this week, for the first time, engineers at Cammell Laird increased the power of Attenborough’s power system to 100%. The ship operates on a hybrid system powered by two six-cylinder and two nine-cylinder Rolls-Royce Bergen diesel engines, which work with a range of battery packs to provide a constant load for electric propulsion motors and marine systems. Engines of different sizes can operate more efficiently under different conditions. They can also operate with low-sulfur fuels and are equipped with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems to reduce emissions.
The hybrid system allows Attenborough to break through a metre-thick ice sheet at a speed of 3 knots (3.5 mph, 5.6 km/h). In addition, by using electric motors and engines located on rubber soundproof pads, ships minimize noise, protecting local marine life and avoiding interference with acoustic and seismic instruments on board.