RRS James Cook named by HRH The Princess Royal
6 February 2007
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has named the RRS James Cook, the latest addition to the Natural Environment Research Council's fleet of research ships.
At yesterday's ceremony at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, the Princess set the champagne bottle swinging to smash on the hull before unveiling a commemorative plaque, which has been placed in the ship's saloon.
Captain Robin Plumley, the ship's Master, guided Her Royal Highness on a tour of the new ship, meeting some of the crew and scientists who will be embarking on scientific expeditions this year. She viewed the working deck and laboratory areas, and discussed the aims of the first research cruise before moving into the wheelhouse to meet more of the crew and some of the project management team. Before leaving the RRS James Cook, Her Royal Highness signed the visitor book.
The new ship will carry scientists to some of the Earth's most challenging environments, from tropical oceans to the edge of the ice sheets. It has been designed as a world-class multidisciplinary science platform that allows for investigations using sophisticated and precisely targeted instruments, such as deep sea remotely operated vehicles.
What people have said:
"With oceans covering around three quarters of the Earth, ships like these are vital for the research community. They can reach places that would otherwise be impossible to explore. They allow us to discover micro-organisms that could, for example, be used to develop new antibiotics. And they help us to monitor and understand changes in the oceans that affect temperature and climate."
Professor Alan Thorpe, Chief Executive, NERC
"The ship is a fantastic platform for undertaking world-class science in the oceans. It will allow big multidisciplinary teams to be brought together at sea and will be used to address some of the challenging questions facing marine scientists - particularly the oceans' role in climate change and the unexplored deep ocean frontiers. It will help us to understand the poorly explored areas of ocean, such as the continental margins, that are becoming increasingly vulnerable to human activities."
Professor Ed Hill, Director, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
"Her arrival is the culmination of a process that began some 6 or 7 years ago… The result is quite simply the best oceanographic research ship in the world with unrivalled capacity and versatility."
Professor Howard Roe, RRS James Cook project management team
"The RRS James Cook provides a great educational facility, giving future generations of students the opportunity to go to sea. Living on board is a 24 hour a day learning experience. Students going out on voyages this year will be the future professors and principal scientists upon which the future of UK science will depend. We are giving them the best facilities with which to start their careers."
Professor Monty Priede, Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen; Principal scientist, Ecomar expedition, summer 2007
"In designing the ship we considered the risk of grounding in isolated, uncharted waters where there is no possibility of rescue, and the risk of puncture damage to the hull from, for example, floating icebergs - or growlers as we call them. We incorporated a 'double skin' around the main propulsion and generator rooms so that, even if damage was incurred, the ship could still get to the nearest port for repairs."
Robin Williams, Naval architect and marine engineer; technical advisor for the project
NERC Press Office
Natural Environment Research Council
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
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1. The RRS James Cook is multi-functional, can carry large scientific parties and is highly flexible in the use of deck and laboratory space. It can operate in tropical regions and at the edge of the ice-sheets without compromising any performance capabilities.
2. The RRS James Cook is managed by NERC's National Marine Facilities Division, based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. The ship is operated by professional mariners who provide a working platform and practical assistance to the scientists.
3. The ship was built by Norwegian shipbuilder Flekkefjord Slipp & Maskinfabrikk AS. The shipyard has extensive experience in building research vessels, offshore vessels and sophisticated fishing vessels. They delivered the RRS James Cook to NERC in August 2006, on time and within budget.
4. The design for the RRS James Cook was developed by Norwegian design company Skipsteknisk AS, a leader in the design of sophisticated research vessels.
5. The Natural Environment Research Council funds world-class science, in universities and its own research centres, that increases knowledge and understanding of the natural world. NERC is tackling the 21st century's major environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity and natural hazards. It leads in providing independent research and training in the environmental sciences.
6. The National Oceanography Centre, Southampton is a joint venture between the Natural Environment Research Council and the University of Southampton. The Centre is the national focus for oceanography in the UK with a remit to achieve scientific excellence as one of the world's top five oceanographic research institutions.
Briefing note: 03/07
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