The British Government has earmarked more than £200 million for a new UK polar flagship that will be ready for its first science mission in 2019, according to news from the British Antarctic Survey.
Owned by NERC (Natural Environment Research Council), and operated by NERC’s British Antarctic Survey (BAS) on behalf of the UK polar science community, this new state-of-the-art research ship will deliver the next generation of UK world-leading marine science in the Antarctic and the Arctic.
Director of British Antarctic Survey, Professor Jane Francis said:
“This an exciting time for UK polar science and I am delighted with this announcement. It signals a firm commitment by Government and NERC to sustain and promote the UK’s world-leading capability for UK research in both polar regions. The last 15-20 years has seen remarkable developments in science and technology. Incorporating these new technologies in a new ice-strengthened research ship will offer a step-change in Britain’s capability to deliver bigger and better science."
"It’s fantastic news for our science teams at BAS, for our partners within UK universities, and for our collaborations with other national polar operators. We very much look forward to helping to develop the specification to enable optimal use of the latest technologies in marine robotic and remotely operated instruments.”
The new flagship will combine the best features of both existing polar research ships; it will be larger, have greater endurance and ice-strengthened capability and will enable scientists to start research cruises earlier in the field season.
Professor Mike Meredith, Leader of the BAS Polar Oceans science programme and Deputy Director of Science said:
“Understanding the polar oceans is absolutely key to understanding the big questions about our global environment. During the last 100 years British scientists have made incredible discoveries about our planet – for example, we now know that the Southern Ocean is a vast natural sink that absorbs carbon dioxide and regulates our climate."
"This new ship will build on this legacy of internationally outstanding research, and will, lead to ground-breaking and exciting discoveries that will ultimately generate new knowledge that benefits our society and economy.”
Operated and managed by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the ship will be available to the whole UK research base including postgraduate training. (NERC is a non-departmental public body that receives around £370 million of annual funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills).