NERC new polar research vessel: Consultation on science requirements

Update August 2015: Design and build of the new polar research vessel

We have received tender submissions from the six selected shipyards.

The submissions will be examined by a NERC assessment team and a preferred supplier selected over the course of September/October 2015. This will be followed by a period of pre-contract discussions with the preferred supplier leading to a contract award in late November 2015.

The preferred supplier will be selected according to detailed objective assessment award criteria based on a match to the NERC requirements. These criteria include technical, quality, conformance and compliance, fuel efficiency/whole life costs and acquisition cost.

The criteria have been established by the NERC assessment team, which is composed of competent and experienced people in the following fields: project management, technical management and advice, procurement and commercial, ship operations, science equipment handling and scientific usage.

The assessment process will take into account feedback on the scientific suitability of the tender submissions provided by the NPRV Science User Consultation panel members.

Update May 2015: Design and build of the new polar research vessel

We received interest in tendering for the new ship from 28 shipyards. After a review and evaluation process, eight of those 28 shipyards were short-listed. Following a period of consultation with stakeholders, a Statement of Requirements together with a concept General Arrangement (GA) was sent to the selected shipyards on 27 March 2015. Of those eight shipyards, Daewoo (South Korea) and Fincantieri (Italy) have subsequently withdrawn from the competition. We are expecting tenders from the following shipyards by the closing date of 27 July 2015:

  • Babcock International Group (Devonport & Rosyth, UK)
  • Cammell Laird (UK)
  • Hyundai Heavy Industries and Construction (South Korea)
  • Sembawang (Singapore)
  • Vard Group (Norway)
  • Freire (Spain)

Ship programme update (PDF, 2.4MB)

The consultation closed on 31 January 2015.

NERC invited the UK marine and polar science community to submit comments on the concept design of the new polar research vessel (NPRV), with respect to its science capability and capacity requirements.

Background information

In April 2014, the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills endorsed the business case for a new UK polar research vessel, and earmarked funding of more than £200 million for the ship and associated enabling works at the UK's Antarctic research stations. The new vessel 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 the UK's Antarctic stations. The ship will be able to carry helicopters and will have a scientific moon pool, in addition to conventional over-side deployment capabilities.

The vessel will be operated for NERC by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and enter service in Autumn 2019. It will fulfil the roles of the current UK polar vessels, RRS James Clark Ross and the RRS Ernest Shackleton.

The science case for the new vessel can be found below:

Science case for the new vessel (PDF, 236KB)

Consultation on science requirements of the new polar vessel

To ensure that the vessel meets the current and future needs of the scientific user community, a consultation process ran from October 2014 to January 2015. The process included online invitation to the UK and international marine and polar science user community to submit comments on the vessel's design.

A town meeting was held on Thursday 15 January 2015 in London to further engage with the wider scientific community and encourage participation and input to the vessel's overall design concept and operability.

Representatives were present, or were consulted, from across the following science community:

  • marine biology
  • marine chemistry
  • marine geology
  • marine physics
  • geophysics
  • atmospheric science
  • autonomous instruments.

Town meeting agenda (PDF, 61KB)

A summary report on the new polar research vessel town meeting will be available soon.

Comments on the concept design and its science capability and capacity requirements have been captured.

The closing date for submission was 16:00 on 31 January 2015.

Responses to the consultation were examined by a Science User Consultation panel which is responsible for ensuring the new vessel has the optimum scientific configuration. The panel includes experts representing different science disciplines.

New polar vessel concept design

A concept design (General Arrangement) for the new polar vessel, provided by Houlder Ltd naval architects, can be found below:

Concept design (PDF, 4.7MB) (issue 1, 12 March 2015)

The concept design was developed in an iterative manner over the consultation period in a response to feedback from the user community and Science User Consultation panel. This concept design was sent to short-listed shipyards on 27 March, but it is possible that further changes to the design may be made in consultation with the successful bidder.

Science User Consultation panel

To represent the science users, a pan-UK panel of experts was established to participate in the consultation. The panel encompassed academic and technical expertise in all major polar marine science disciplines, and its membership was drawn from across the UK marine and polar (Arctic and Antarctic) science community, including HEIs, to ensure open and inclusive representation of all UK science users. The panel also included members representing the NPRV project management and NERC marine and polar operations. Several members of the panel (marked with *) also served on the RRS Discovery project Science User Consultation panel.

The panel's primary task was to develop the scientific user requirements and to ensure that the new polar vessel has the optimum science capability and capacity in order to meet the present and future needs of the UK science community. To achieve this, the panel reviewed responses from the online consultation on the vessel's science requirements and a town hall meeting that was held towards the end of the consultation period.

If changes to the ship's design that will affect its science capability and capacity are proposed by the shipyard that wins the contract to build the vessel, the panel will be consulted about these changes.

The panel membership

Ray Leakey
Chair and NPRV senior science representative
Scottish Association for Marine Science, Oban

Brian King
Physics representative
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Rob Larter
Geophysics representative
British Antarctic Survey

Colm Ó Cofaigh
Geology representative
University of Durham

Ian Brooks
Atmospheric Science representative
University of Leeds

Malc Woodward*
Chemistry representative
Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Sophie Fielding*
Biology representative
British Antarctic Survey

Russell Wynn*
Autonomous instruments representative
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Andy Jeffries*
NPRV Project manager

John Nicholson
NPRV Project management officer
British Antarctic Survey

Colin Day*
NMF-SS representative
National Marine Facilities, Southampton

Mike Webb*
NERC marine science & innovation manager

Tim Stockings
Director of BAS operations
British Antarctic Survey