A new polar research vessel for the UK marine science community: Consultation town meeting

1 December 2014

In April this year, NERC announced that it is to commission a new state-of-the-art polar research vessel to enable UK polar scientists to remain at the forefront of environmental research in both the Antarctic and the Arctic.

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 ship will be ready for operation by 2019.

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

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

A town meeting will be held on Thursday 15 January 2015 in London to engage with the wider scientific community and encourage participation and input to the vessel's overall design concept and operability. Furthermore, a workshop of the NERC Marine Facilities Advisory Board (MFAB) will run concurrently; the aim will be to gain wide input to and engagement with equipment requirements in marine science over the next five to ten years.