RRS Sir David Attenborough completes ice trials in the Antarctic

·2-min read
British Antarctic Survey/Cover Images

British research ship, RRS Sir David Attenborough, has completed ice trials during its maiden voyage to Antarctica.

The trials are the first in a series to get the ship, which the U.K. public originally named Boaty McBoatface in an online poll, ready for multi-disciplinary science missions.

The ship was tested through the ice, at every power level, to measure its performance and compare it to the expected, modelled results. The team also performed a range of other manoeuvres including reversing, turning, as well as impact tests at different speeds in areas of sea ice around the Antarctic Peninsula and Bellingshausen Sea.

Most manoeuvres took place in fast ice - ice that is attached to the coast and not moving - allowing the team to calculate accurately the amount of energy required to break the ice.

The British Antarctic Survey's Ralph Stevens, Captain of RRS Sir David Attenborough, said: "Overall, we're really pleased with the ship's performance in ice trials - in some trials it actually performed better than we expected.

"The trials did highlight some issues with the ship which need to be addressed but this was expected - the SDA is a bespoke ship with a complex design, and the purpose of trials is to find the things that don't work so well.

"The ship encountered unprecedented sea ice conditions after the ice trials - second-year sea ice, covered in a thick 1.5-metre layer of snow."

On the ship's performance, he added: "The thing that surprised us most was how comfortable the ship was while breaking through the sea ice. The bow breaks the ice in a completely different way to our previous vessels, and is much quieter than expected."

Further science trials will take place during the 2022/23 Antarctic season.