Last night, James Gray, MP North Wiltshire, welcomed Sir David Attenborough to Parliament to hear an update on Britain’s new polar research ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

The meeting was organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Polar Regions, which Mr Gray chairs. The meeting was attended by over 100 guests from across Parliament and the wider UK Polar Community.

Mr Gray said: “It is vital that Parliament gets to see the very best that British science and engineering has to offer, especially where tax-payer funded projects are concerned.”

The Royal Research Ship Sir David Attenborough was commissioned by the Natural Environmental Research Council to maintain Britain’s position at the leading-edge of polar research. Costing £200 million to build, the ship will be one of the most advanced scientific research vessels in the world. It has also been a catalyst for upgrading the rest of the UK’s critical polar infrastructure in Antarctica, and creates exciting opportunities for UK polar science in the years ahead.

Next week, the RRS Sir David Attenborough’s hull will enter the water from Cammell Laird’s shipyard in Birkenhead where it is being built. That will allow the final modules to be added ahead of the official naming ceremony in the autumn. Sea trials will follow with a view to having the ship ready for use in 2019.

Mr Gray added: “This ship demonstrates the very best that Global Britain has to offer, first and foremost in terms of polar science and logistics, but also because it demonstrates that British ship-building is back. As well as producing a cutting-edge ship, this project has been an investment in skills and expertise right across the UK maritime sector, which we can export to the rest of the world.

From 2019, the RRS Sir David Attenborough will provide a state-of-the-art platform from which scientists will tackle some of the most important issues facing humanity, including climate change, future sea-level rise, and marine biodiversity.