Construction has started on the UK’s new £200m research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough with the laying of the keel.
Cammell Laird shipyard is building the vessel in Birkenhead, in the Port of Liverpool City Region, UK.
Commissioned by the UK’s scientific research agency Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the vessel will be operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
NERC chief executive Duncan Wingham said: "The RRS Sir David Attenborough will be one of the most advanced polar research vessels in the world and will help ensure world-class polar and deep ocean science in the decades to come.
“Today's keel laying ceremony marks the start of an exciting construction process here at Cammell Laird, which will make new science possible from 2019.
“While it might seem remote to the UK, it is vital to understand the polar region as one of the first places where we see the impact of global environmental changes."
The RRS Sir David Attenborough is expected to become operational in 2019, and will provide a research platform for scientists to help them tackle some of the important issues, including climate change, future sea level rise and the impact of environmental change on marine biodiversity.
The keel laying process will be initiated with the lifting of the first 100t hull unit by crane onto the construction berth.
BAS professor Jane Francis said: "This £200m government investment in the new research ship, and a suite of infrastructure projects that will support it, will be a huge transformation in the way that BAS delivers its science programmes and its provision of operational support to the UK science community."
Construction of RRS Sir David Attenborough is set to support 460 jobs and apprenticeships in Merseyside.
Image: Artist's impression of RRS Sir David Attenborough. Photo: © Copyright NERC.