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New Ship for Antarctic Research
For Immediate Release
THE British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is to replace its 30-year-old vessel
Royal Research Ship (RRS) Bransfield with a new ship later this year.
At a cost of 30 million pounds sterling, BAS will take delivery of the
ice-strengthened ship Polar Queen in August for use in the annual delivery
of supplies to its Antarctic research stations as well as for scientific
The Polar Queen, designed and built by Rieber Shipping in Norway in 1995,
will be renamed Ernest Shackleton. BAS, based at Cambridge in eastern
England, will operate the ship under what is believed to be the first
private finance initiative shipping deal. Described as an innovative
contract, the bare-boat charter from the Norwegian Rieber Shipping AS/Polar
Holding ASA will enable a BAS crew to operate the ship for up to 20 years
during the Antarctic summer season between October and May.
When not in Antarctic service the ship will be chartered back to
Rieber for commercial work. A BAS spokesman explained: "This solution
makes full use of the ship and provides better value for both the UK
taxpayer and Rieber Shipping than through a conventional procurement."
The Polar Queen has a well-proven capability for polar logistic and
scientific work because it has been chartered in recent years for use in the
German, Scandinavian and Australian national Antarctic research programmes.
Professor Chris Rapley, director of BAS, said: "The new vessel will enable
BAS to ensure that the UK's presence in Antarctic scientific research will
be maintained at a high level and at an affordable cost in one of the most
sensitive and fascinating regions of the world. RRS Bransfield can retired
gracefully after a distinguished service in the often hostile conditions of
BAS has operated RRS Bransfield in Antarctica since 1971 and the ship has
covered about three million nautical miles. The ship will be formally
retired in the BAS home port of Grimsby in north-east England in September
when the new ship will also be renamed.
The British Antarctic Survey is responsible for most of the UK government's
scientific research in the Antarctic, South Georgia and the South Sandwich
Islands. Its parent body is the UK Natural Environment Research Council
(NERC) and all aspects of its research programme are organised from the BAS
headquarters in Cambridge.
The Rieber Shipping company was originally established 120 years ago and has
operated vessels since the 1930s. In 1956, it undertook its first Antarctic
expedition charter and in 1973 the company ordered the first of a series of
purpose-built, modern ice-breaking ships for Antarctic and Arctic
British Antarctic Survey
High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, United
Kingdom CB3 0ET
Telephone: +44 1223 221400
Fax: +44 1223 362616
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