Britain’s high-tech polar research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough is gearing up for its first Antarctic science cruise.
Over the coming weeks, the crew and scientists on board the vessel will be carrying out a range of trials to test the ship’s science equipment in both deep and shallow water around the Scottish coast. Among the tech to be tested are the vessel’s moonpool, coring equipment and the ship’s workboat Erebus, all of which are critical elements of upcoming science missions.
Erebus will be put through its paces with new equipment, including an A-frame, winch and upgraded electronics for its acoustic sensors, being tested. Scientists will use Erebus to get to places where the SDA is too large to go, such as areas of shallow water in fjords, allowing researchers to reach and survey new areas.
The final part of the trials will focus on the coring equipment. As well as the gravity and multi-corer, a piston corer, which can collect cores up to 17m long, is also being trialed. Researchers will analyze the collected cores using sensors in a purpose-built container laboratory, the Multi-Sensor Core Logger. This plug-and-play lab contains and instrument that can analyze samples on board the ship, informing the next sample site.
During these science trials, the ship is also experimenting using hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) for the first time, as part of British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) efforts’ to reduce its carbon emissions.
The high-profile vessel, the U.K.’s largest commercial newbuild for over 30 years, was delivered to Natural Environment Research Council and BAS by Cammell Laird Shipbuilders in 2021. BAS undertake vital research in the polar regions, leading in polar science and polar operations, addressing issues of global importance and helping society adapt to a changing world.
After the trials are complete, the ship will head back to Babcock International Yard for a further period of routine maintenance before departing for Antarctic later in the year.
This season will see the ship conduct multiple funded science cruises. The first project, BIOPOLE, seeks to unravel one of the most important ecological processes in the ocean; the release of nutrients from melting sea ice into the water, and how this might be affected by climate change.
Published at Mon, 07 Aug 2023 17:10:24 +0000