The UK Government has announced a capital investment of more than £200m to build a new polar ship for environmental research in both Antarctica and the Arctic.
Announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, the funding will be part of the £1.1bn annual capital budget for science and research over the next five years, which was originally revealed in June 2013.
Osborne said: “One of the final frontiers in the world where there is still much discovery to be done are the polar oceans.
“Britain must continue to have a presence in these parts of the world. But our two current polar exploration ships are nearing the end of their life and need replacing.
“So I am delighted that we are investing in a new polar research ship carry cutting-edge British technology to put British scientists at the forefront of research in both the Antarctic and the Arctic oceans.”
Designed by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the new polar ship will feature advanced technologies, including robotic submarines and underwater gliders to collect data on the ocean conditions and marine biology.
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Capable of delivering increased endurance with greater ice-strength, the ship can conduct longer voyages that can significantly enhance the geographic coverage area, with support from helicopters.
The NERC’s British Antarctic Survey (BAS) will operate the new ship, which will be made available to the whole UK research base including postgraduate training.
Image: Design of the new polar ship. Photo: Gov.UK.