Press release

The race is on: campaign launched to name the UK’s state-of-the-art £200m polar research ship

Campaign launched to put forward names for a new polar research ship being built at the world-famous Cammell Laird shipyard on Merseyside.

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Shackleton. Endeavour. Falcon. These are just some of the names suggested for the UK’s next world-class polar research ship as part of a campaign launched today (17 March 2016) for the public to put forward names for the state-of-the-art vessel to be built in the North West of England.

Set to set sail in 2019 and backed by £200 million of government funding, the polar research ship will be built at the world-famous Cammell Laird shipyard on Merseyside.

Tonne-for-tonne, the ship – together with the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC) 2 existing research ships – will provide the UK with the most advanced floating research fleet in the world and will help put the UK at the forefront of ocean research for years to come.

Today, the Science Minister Jo Johnson is calling for school pupils, parents, teachers and adults to take part in a once in a lifetime opportunity to suggest a name they would like to see on the side of the UK’s polar research ship when it takes to the seas.

Universities & Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

Can you imagine one of the world’s biggest research labs travelling to the Antarctic with your suggested name proudly emblazoned on the side? The polar research ship represents a leap forward in securing Britain’s place as a world leader in marine and climate change science – and illustrates this government’s commitment to invest in research facilities on a record scale.

With the eyes of the world on this ship, this campaign will give everyone across the UK the opportunity to feel part of this exciting project and the untold discoveries it will unearth.

The ship – which will be constructed on Merseyside – will also bring a major boost to the ship building trade in the North West, after manufacturers Cammell Laird beat off competition from companies in Europe and Far East to win the contract. The project is also expected to secure around 400 jobs and create 60 apprenticeships.

Operating in one of the world’s most challenging global environments – our polar regions – we’re looking for an inspirational name that exemplifies the work it will do. The ship could be named after a local historical figure, movement, or landmark - or a famous polar explorer or scientist.

Entrants can suggest as many names as they wish, with a short explanation about why this name would be suitable.

Get involved at name the polar research ship - closing date for all entries is 16 April 2016

Notes to editors

Famous polar discoveries

Polar research has a history of unearthing vital scientific breakthroughs. British Antarctic Survey scientists’ discovery of the ozone hole in the 1980s, following many decades of monitoring, was crucial to the Montreal Protocol, one of the most successful international agreements ever. British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists were not only leaders in monitoring stratospheric ozone but also made important breakthroughs in understanding the atmospheric chemistry that led to ozone depletion. Our continued investment in ozone research still provides abundant evidence for policymaking.

What sort of name do we need?

We will apply to register the ship as a Royal Research Ship (RRS) so the name must be in the format RRS NAME.

Secondly, we would like the name to be inspirational and about environmental and polar science, to help us tell everyone about the amazing work the ship does.

What will the polar ship do?

Once ready in 2019, the ship will be deployed in both Antarctica and the Arctic, and will be able to spend up to 60 days in sea-ice at any one time to let scientists gather extended observations and data. The ship will also be the first British-built polar research vessel with a helideck, will open up new locations for science and will be one of the most sophisticated floating research laboratories working at the poles.

Robotic submarines and marine gliders will collect data on ocean conditions and marine biology and deliver it to scientists working in the ship’s onboard laboratories. Airborne robots and onboard environmental monitoring systems will provide detailed information on the surrounding polar environment.

Want to get involved?

Have a look at the suggestions made so far and add your own. The closing date for all entries is 16 April 2016. The final name will be selected by NERC.

Published 17 March 2016