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Construction begins on RRS David Attenborough, formerly 'Boaty McBoatface'

The research vessel – whose chosen name in an online poll was deemed unsuitable to the dismay of many – will explore the deepest waters of the Antarctic…

Earlier this year, the people of the UK spoke as one in favour of naming the newly commissioned polar research vessel the RRS Boaty McBoatface. Unfortunately for the nation, this moniker was rejected by the powers that be. Now that same vehicle is under construction with a new name, RRS David Attenborough, and will eventually take to the seas to promote the UK’s interests at the forefront of polar science, helping scientists to tackle climate change, rising sea levels and the impact of environmental change on marine life. 

"I have had several opportunities to experience the power of these places first hand,” said Attenborough. “This new ship will ensure that scientists have access to these enigmatic regions to uncover secrets that we can only imagine at this point. Scientists working on this new ship will inform everyone about our changing world for generations to come.”

The ship’s construction begins today in what is known as the keel-laying ceremony – a traditional event said to bring good luck.  National treasure Attenborough - who is returning to lend his much-loved voice to Planet Eart II, the sequel to the nature documentary that garnered so much acclaim a decade ago - will appear at the ceremony in person at Merseyside’s Cammall Laird shipyard.

He will begin the keel-laying by lifting the first 100 tonne hull unit via crane to the construction berth – the first of 97 units that will form the hull of the ship.

Even the name Boaty McBoatface hasn’t gone forgotten – one of the high-tech submarines that will reside on board the Attenborough has been named in honour of the British people’s failed attempts to name the ship.

For more info on RRS David Attenborough, and what it will be researching in the Antarctic, grab a subscription to National Geographic - now with up to 68% off.

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