Royal Research Ship

A Royal Research Ship (RRS) is a merchant navy vessel of the United Kingdom that conducts scientific research for Her Majesty's Government. Organisations operating such ships include; the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC). A warrant from the Queen is required before a ship can be designated as an RRS.[1]

Relationship with the Royal NavyEdit

In the 1950s and 1960s the Royal Research Ships of the day were owned by the Admiralty, partially managed by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), and run as ships of that fleet.

The work of the two Royal Research Ships operated by the British Antarctic Survey is complemented by a Royal Navy icebreaker, currently HMS Protector, which provides science logistics support to the British Antarctic Survey.[2]

Current Royal Research ShipsEdit

All ships bear the prefix "RRS" - Royal Research Ship.

Ship Entered service Displacement Type Owner Operator Note
RRS James Clark Ross 1990 5,732 tonnes[3] Research ship Natural Environment Research Council British Antarctic Survey [4]
RRS James Cook 2007 5,800 tonnes[5] National Marine Facilities Division, National Oceanography Centre [6]
RRS Discovery 2013 6,260 tonnes[7] [8]

RRS Sir David AttenboroughEdit

On 25 April 2014 the government announced that £200 million would be invested in the construction of a new polar research vehicle, to replace Ernest Shackleton and James Clark Ross.[9] The ship is to be built by Cammell Laird with construction expected to start in Autumn 2016.[10] The new icebreaker will be designed with a helipad, on-board labs and the capability to deploy subs. The ship is due for completion in October 2019[11] and should enter service later that year.[12]

On 17 March 2016, the Natural Environment Research Council launched a poll to name the ship.[13] By 29 March 2016, the leading name was RRS Boaty McBoatface with more than 101,000 votes.[14] When polling closed on 16 April 2016, the name had 124,000 votes, more than four times that of its nearest rival, RRS Poppy-Mai.[15] Many more, if not most of the suggested names were in jest. Other top 10-finishers were RRS Its Bloody Cold Here, Usain Boat, Boatimus Prime, and I Like Big Boats & I Cannot Lie.[13] Another popular name, RRS Blas de Lezo (after Admiral Blas de Lezo), attracted over 38,000 votes before it was removed from voting for being "liable to cause offence".[16]

Jo Johnson, the Minister of State for Universities and Science, said that ministers were "unlikely to endorse the fantastic and very imaginative suggestions [because]... we want something that fits the mission and captures the spirit of scientific endeavour."[15] In May 2016, it was announced that the new ship was to be named after the naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, while Boaty McBoatface would be retained as the name of one of the new ship's ROVs.[17]

Ship Entering service Displacement Type Owner Operator Note
RRS Sir David Attenborough 2019 12,790 tonnes Research ship Natural Environment Research Council British Antarctic Survey [18]

Notable former Royal Research ShipsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "£36m contract awarded for scientific research ship". NERC press release. 2 July 2004. Archived from the original on 8 July 2009. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ "HMS Protector". Royal Navy (British Ministry of Defence). Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "RRS James Clark Ross - Research Ship". British Antarctic Survey (NERC). Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "RRS James Cook". National Oceanography Centre (NERC). Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "RRS Discovery". National Oceanography Centre (NERC). Archived from the original on 26 April 2014.
  9. ^ "Experts could overrule 'Boaty McBoatface' name choice for polar ship". BBC News.
  10. ^ "NERC - UK shipyard selected as preferred bidder for £200m new polar research vessel".
  11. ^
  12. ^ "George Osborne orders new icebreaker for UK polar science". BBC. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  13. ^ a b Name Our Ship at the NERC website
  14. ^ Rogers, Katie (22 March 2016). "Boaty McBoatface: What You Get When You Let the Internet Decide". The New York Times.
  15. ^ a b "Boaty McBoatface 'unlikely' to be name of Britain's new polar research vessel despite runaway win of public vote". The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  16. ^ "'NERC Deletes "Offensive" Spanish Admiral Blas De Lezo As Name For New British Ship". THE SPAIN REPORT. 29 March 2016.
  17. ^ "UK's £200 million Polar Research Ship named in honour of Sir David Attenborough". UK Government. 6 May 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  18. ^ "New UK Polar Research Vessel". Archived from the original on 9 May 2016.

External linksEdit