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BAT121 RRS SIR David Attenborough Maiden Voyage FDC BAT121 RRS SIR David Attenborough Maiden Voyage FDC
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Maiden voyage of RRS Sir David Attenborough

Britain’s new polar research ship, RRS Sir David Attenborough, completed its successful first season in Antarctica in 2022.

The ship is one of the most advanced polar research vessels in the world and will carry out important scientific research in some of the most extreme environments on Earth, as well as providing vital supplies to the UK's research stations in both the Arctic and Antarctic.

The ship, once almost known as Boaty McBoatface, departed the UK in November 2021 officially entering Antarctica on 13 December, and arriving at the UK’s largest research facility on the continent, Rothera, on 17 December. During its eight months in Antarctica the ship’s first season saw it conduct science trials, transport people and cargo to four of the British Antarctic Survey’s research stations and complete its ice trials. The ship returned to the UK 14 June 2022.

Being a Polar Ice Class 5 ship, meaning it can operate year-round in medium first-year ice, the ship can break through ice one-metre thick at a speed of three knots (5.6km/h). When ice breaking, the ship rises up on the ice and uses its weight – 15,000 tonnes – to break through.

The ship’s sensitive acoustic instruments are housed within the hull and covered with a protective material to ensure they are protected when the ship is in ice. Other instruments, such as the farsounder forward-looking sonar, which warns of navigational hazards under the water (such as unchartered rocks), is fitted on a retractable pole and will only be deployed when the ship is not ice-breaking. The ship also has a moon pool – a four-by-four metre hole through the middle of the ship – through which researchers can deploy instruments, even when in ice.

Reflecting on the ship’s first journey South, Captain Will Whatley, Master of RRS Sir David Attenborough said: “Everyone on board was thrilled to arrive at Rothera for the first time. This was a really exciting and proud moment for us, and another huge milestone to have achieved. As we travelled further South, we had the chance to put the ship through its paces in Antarctic conditions – and I’m pleased to report the ship performed really well”.

On 22 November 2022 RRS Sir David Attenborough departed UK for its second voyage to Antarctica. During its second mission ‘south’ the floating laboratory will transfer station teams, food, science equipment, cargo and fuel to British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) research stations. The ship will also be carrying out trials of polar science equipment in the extreme polar conditions, a critical step in the ship’s commissioning.

“With the world’s eyes on COP27 in Egypt, and climate change at the forefront of all our minds, we are reminded of the critical role this ship is going to play over the next three decades in improving our understanding of climate change and the impacts on our environment and society.” Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director of (BAS).

At a cost of £200 million, the ship was commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council, built by Cammell Laird and is operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

70p, 80p, £1.07, £1.30

Technical details:


70p Jamie Anderson, British Antarctic Survey

80p William Clark, British Antarctic Survey

£1.07 Jamie Anderson, British Antarctic Survey

£1.30 Jenna Plank, British Antarctic Survey

FDC Jenna Plank, British Antarctic Survey

Printer Cartor

Process Stochastic lithography

Perforation 13 ¼ x 13 ½ per 2cms

Stamp size 42 x 28mm

Sheet Layout 10

Release date 21st December, 2022

Production Coordination Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd


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