The government will fund a new £200 million polar research ship to put UK scientists at the forefront of climate and ocean research in both Antarctica and the Arctic, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced in a speech. Built with on board laboratories, the new ship will carry cutting edge technology, including robotic submarines and underwater gliders to bring back data on the ocean conditions and marine biology.
The Chancellor made the announcement speaking to an audience of leading scientists on the importance of science, research and innovation to the government’s long term economic plan.
The Chancellor’s 2013 Autumn Statement announcement of £1.1billion per year of capital funding to the UK scientific infrastructure provides an exceptional opportunity to enhance the UK presence in the South Atlantic and Antarctica, and to sustain, for decades into the future, the UK’s front-rank position in Antarctic and Southern Ocean scientific research. The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) proposed the design and build of the next generation polar research vessel.
This will deliver world-leading capability for UK research in both Antarctica and the Arctic. Built with on board laboratories, the new ship will contain:
- 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
- sophisticated underwater environmental monitoring systems, used to provide underpinning data for research
Operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the ship will be available to the whole UK research base including postgraduate training.
The new ship will have greater endurance, to enable longer voyages which coupled with the use of helicopters will ensure significantly greater geographic coverage. The enhanced coverage will open up new locations for science and will clearly demonstrate and reinforce the continuing British presence in Antarctica and the South Atlantic.