12/10/2015

£200m Polar Research Ship To Be Built

The preferred bidder to construct a £200m state-of-the-art polar research ship has been named.

Cammell Laird in Birkenhead has been selected as the preferred bidder for the project which will help the UK remain at the forefront of climate and ocean research.

The decision follows a 12-month competitive tender process that involved bids from companies in the UK, Europe and the Far East.

The shipyard is expected to cut steel in autumn 2016 and deliver the next-generation polar research vessel, ready for operation, by 2019.

The new polar research ship will operate in both Antarctica and the Arctic and will be able to endure up to 60 days in sea-ice to enable scientists to gather more observations and data. It will also be the first British-built polar research vessel with a heli-deck, opening up new locations for science.

Robotic submarines and marine gliders will collect data on ocean conditions and marine biology, before delivering it to scientists working in the ship's on-board laboratories. Airborne robots and on-board environmental monitoring systems will provide detailed information on the surrounding polar environment.

The ship will be operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and will be made available to the whole UK research community, including for postgraduate training.

Commenting on the appointment, Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: "As a one nation government we are investing in science capital on a record scale. This £200 million investment secures the UK's position as a world leader in polar research and provides a major boost to shipbuilding in the North West.

"Britain has long been a pioneer in ocean science, shipbuilding and manufacturing. Cammell Laird's success in this competition is testament to this expertise and our commitment to continue pushing the boundaries in marine science."

Chancellor George Osborne added: "In last year's Budget I committed £200 million to help put Britain at the forefront of polar research, and I'm delighted to see the preferred bidder is a UK company in the heart of our Northern Powerhouse. This will help secure vital jobs and apprenticeships in the North West and also make sure Britain stays at the cutting edge of polar research."

John Syvret, Cammell Laird Chief Executive, commented: "The new contract, which will be finalised later this year, is expected to secure 400 jobs at Cammell Laird and a further 100 jobs within the local supply chain.

"Cammell Laird has a very successful apprenticeship scheme and would plan to recruit 60 apprentices throughout the term of the contract. Being selected as the preferred bidder in a global tender to undertake such an exciting and major infrastructure project is fantastic news for our workforce, the local region and the UK."

(JP)

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