One of the most uplifting stories of recent years has been, for me, the wonderful resurgence of the famous Mersey Shipyard of Cammell Laird.
Over its long and distinguished history, Cammell Laird has built many fine and historic ships, but surely winning the tender to build this circa £150m polar research ship must rank as a very special achievement – this against strong international competition. It gives a strong positive message that British engineering is still first class. CEO John Syvret and MD Linton Roberts and their teams should be proud of their work to re-establish this great shipbuilding yard over the last decade or so. The future now holds great promise!
The Mersey was the home base of my own deep sea company, Blue Funnel Line, and it has been wonderful to witness how this great city, its environs and the Port of Liverpool have been revitalised in recent years. The Peel Group’s massive investment in the Liverpool2 Project (a deep water river berth which can handle some of the biggest container ships now operating) presently under construction, is a vivid illustration of the confidence in the future of this great port. The winning of this important order for the RRS Sir David Attenborough by Cammell Laird provides a wonderful confidence boost for the whole Merseyside area, but also importantly for British shipbuilding and engineering.
On 17th October, Cammell Laird held one of the biggest ceremonies in its illustrious history when Sir David Attenborough joined more than 1,000 people for the keel laying of the new £150million polar research vessel.
Construction was officially started by the world-renowned naturalist and broadcaster, after whom the ship is named, at the ceremonial event at Cammell Laird’s famous Birkenhead site in Liverpool City Region. Sir David started the “keel laying” process by initiating the lifting by crane of the first hull unit on to the construction berth. This unit, weighing around 100 tonnes, includes part of the ship’s keel and is the first of 97 units which will be erected to form the entire hull of the research ship.
When the ship sets sail in 2019, the RRS Sir David Attenborough will provide a research base to help scientists tackle some of the most important issues facing humanity, including climate change, future sea level rise and the impact of environmental change on marine life.