Construction of the RSS Sir David Attenborough, the UK’s £200m polar research ship, began on Monday with a traditional ceremony featuring a coin produced by Pobjoy Mint.
Shipbuilding tradition calls for the first keel segment to be placed atop a coin. In this case, the coin in question was produced by Pobjoy Mint for British Antarctic Territory (the part of Antarctica claimed by the UK) so they could start the ceremony.
A crane was in position to lower a near-100-tonne segment of keel on to blocks on the firm’s slipway with Sir David Attenborough himself (after whom the ship is named) on hand to press the button that initiated the movement of the crane and its load. Once the ship is officially launched, the coin will then be recovered and presented to the crew for good luck.
The 128m-long vessel will feature a helipad, cranes, onboard laboratories and it will have the ability to launch submarines and other ocean sampling and survey gear.
Speaking of the ship, Sir David Attenborough, commented “I know that the work they will be doing onboard the new polar ship will be important, not only for science but for the whole world, because what happens down in the Antarctic is crucial for what happens to the climate of the Earth."
The ability to send subs below the surface, in particular, underneath the ice, will help experts to gather data which will be essential to understanding the key processes that may be contributing to the instability of the ice and which could lead to a dramatic rise in the sea-level.
Pobjoy Mint have a wide range of coins produced for the British Antarctic Territory, with a number of them minted to honor and commemorate important expeditions. View the range here.
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(Image taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-37648915)