New £200m icebreaker for UK polar science to be built

Hear why it's so important from the BBC's Science Editor David Shukman.

UK science is to get one of the biggest, most advanced polar research vessels in the world.

The £200m investment in an icebreaker is to be announced by Chancellor George Osborne in a speech on Friday.

The ship is likely to be 130m long and have a helipad, cranes, onboard labs, and be able to launch submarines and other ocean survey gear.

It should be ready to go in 2019 and will support scientists in both the Antarctic and the Arctic.

Artist's impression of new polar ship

Plans for the design of the ship need to be finalised but this is what's known at the moment.

  • Likely to have a length of 130m and a breadth of 25m
  • Its gross tonnage would be about 13,000 tonnes
  • Its cargo volume would be around 4,200 cu metres
  • It must be able to operate on its own for up to 80 days
  • This means it could cover roughly 24,000 nautical miles
  • Helicopter facilities are a must-have
  • It would launch aerial and ocean robotic systems
  • Up to 60 scientists and support staff could live aboard

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