RRS Sir David Attenborough First Call
This special souvenir sheet celebrates the arrival of the RRS Sir David Attenborough in the Falkland Islands.
Britain’s new polar ship has been registered on the British register of ships at Stanley, Falkland Islands. This continues the long tradition of registering British Antarctic Survey (BAS) ships and aircraft in the Falkland Islands, and underpins the ship’s role in delivering scientific excellence in the South-west Atlantic and Antarctic region. In her science and logistics missions, the RRS Sir David Attenborough will regularly visit the three Overseas Territories of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and British Antarctic Territory.
Commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and operated by BAS, the new polar ship will transform UK research in the polar regions. Its missions will be critical for understanding and making sense of our changing climate and will keep Britain at the forefront of world-leading research in Antarctica and the Arctic. This £200m commitment represents the UK Government’s largest investment in polar science since the 1980s.
The RRS Sir David Attenborough is named after the British broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Frederick Attenborough. The ship was handed over to NERC and BAS by shipbuilder Cammell Laird on 27 November 2020 and is expected to commence polar operations in 2021. It will replace the RRS James Clark Ross, sold in August 2021, and the RRS Ernest Shackleton which was returned to its owners in 2019 after 20 years of polar duties for BAS.
Technical sea trials and scientific equipment testing began in October 2020. The RRS Sir David Attenborough is designed to support science in extreme environments and this multidisciplinary research platform will transform how ship-borne science is conducted in the polar regions, providing scientists and postgraduate trainees with state-of-the-art facilities to research the oceans, seafloor, ice and atmosphere.
Britain has been a world leader in polar exploration and research for over a century and studying these remote regions is crucial in helping us understand changes in our planet’s oceans, marine life and climate system.
Nigel Phillips CBE, Governor Falkland Islands and HM Commissioner South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands has said that “The connection between the British Antarctic Survey and the UK Overseas Territories in the South West Atlantic is mutually beneficial and the launch of the RRS Sir David Attenborough will continue that association long into the future. Science is key to evidence-based decision making and it must underpin how we protect our precious environment. The importance therefore of this incredible science platform cannot be understated. We look forward to welcoming the RRS Sir David Attenborough to her home port of Stanley and further strengthening our relationship with the British Antarctic Survey.”
Technical features of the RRS Sir David Attenborough include:
• Length: 129 metres; beam: 24m; Gross Tonnage: 15,000
• Scientific cargo volume of approximately 900m³
• Endurance – up to 60 days
• Range 19,000 nautical miles at 13 knots (24 km/h) cruising speed; more than
enough for a return trip from England to Rothera Research Station, or to circle
the entire Antarctic continent twice!
• Ice breaking capability – up to 1m thick at 3 knots (5.6 km/h)
• Bow and stern thrusters for excellent dynamic positioning in challenging conditions
• Launch and recovery of aerial and ocean robotic systems
• Crew approx. 30
• Accommodation for up to 60 scientists and support staff