At 128.9 by 24 meters, the RRS Sir David Attenborough is not a large ship, but she is a wondrously complex ship. Designed and built to meet the contemporary science requirements as a seagoing science platform the ship can also provide support to land-based polar science. In addition to onboard laboratories the ship will carry: remote controlled instruments, which can safely open up extreme polar environments to research, robotic vehicles, helping to pave the way for the development of new UK industries, and sophisticated underwater environmental monitoring systems, used to provide underpinning date for research.
Recently launched from the United Kingdom’s Cammell Laird Shipyard, the Royal Research Ship is packed with everything that researchers could desire to do their work in and near the ice of the Arctic and Antarctic. With accommodation for 30 crew and an additional 60 researchers, she compares to a pocket cruise ship but she is all about work. The ship is named for famed naturalist Sir David Attenborough, who said during the commissioning, “”This astonishing ship… will find the science with which to deal with the problems that are facing the world today and will increasingly do so tomorrow.”
Three main engines supplied by Rolls Royce, operating in various configurations, will produce power for main propulsion purposes and drive four 2,750 kW (3,690 hp) asynchronous electric motors turning two, 5-blade, 4.5-meter diameter controllable pitch propellers. This will give the ship a 13-knot economical cruising speed in open water and the ability to break through one-meter thick level ice at three knots.
As a research vessel, often operating remote submersible vehicles, she will spend considerable time station keeping. She is fitted with Dynamic Positioning System (DPS) and four Tees White Gill thrusters, two forward and two aft for work in challenging conditions. Rolls-Royce has supplied the automation and control systems for the dynamic positioning system and its proprietary Unified Bridge, as well as the deck handling systems.
The ship’s hotel services, including power for a lot of sensitive computers and scientific instruments, are supplied by a reliable 885 kW (1,187 hp), IMO tier III compliant, Cummins KTA38 DM1-powered Stamford PM734B2 Alternator. The engine and generator unit are mounted on a steel base frame with local control and alarm monitoring system. The unit provides a continuous 850 KWe, 1062 KVA V 60 Hz. The KTA38 is fitted with a Yara Exhaust SCR After-treatment system for reducing NOx emissions. The genset incorporates an air start mechanism.
An additional KTA38 DM1-powered emergency generator is located in the ship’s superstructure and can be started with its own independent batteries or a hydraulic operated starter. Its Stamford HCM6341K1 alternator has a prime continuous rating out put of 1062 KVA 690V 850 KWe 60 Hz.
The KTA38 generator-set engines were manufactured at the Cummins factory in Daventry, United Kingdom. They are a proud addition to the thousands of these V-configured, twelve-cylinder, 38-liter, engines doing service on ships and boats worldwide.
The officially naming ceremony was officiated by Prince William and Katherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, at the Cammell Laird Shipyard on September 26, 2019. At the same time, one of the ship’s autonomous unmanned sub-surface vehicles was officially named Boaty McBoatface in recognition of that name winning the ship’s initial naming contest.
The British Antarctic Survey will operate the ship and it will be available year round to the UK research community. In addition to its integral research labs, the ship has space to plug in portable containerized laboratories introducing a new level of flexibility in science support.
Photos 1,& 3 above courtesy of Cummins UK
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