The hull should make for quite a sight as her steelwork floats out onto Liverpool’s famous waters.
“She’s not a huge supertanker but she is a large ship at 128.9m and around 10,000 tonnes on the day – so, there will be a bit of a splash, certainly off the stern,” said Cammell Laird’s David Williams. “She’s got quite a flat transom and as that makes the transition to the water, there will be some waves created,” the business development director told Jammy Toast.
Unfortunately, the event is not open to the public after the company decided on an invited audience only of more than 2,000 people in the yard. It will be made up of VIPs, staff and their families. But star of the day will, of course, be Sir David (not our Bearkeeper but Mr Attenborough) himself. The naturalist will be asked to press the button that unleashes his namesake on its grand slide into the water.
It will be an important moment for Cammell Laird which has fought hard to position itself in the competitive international shipbuilding market. Not since 1993 has a vessel built at the yard been launched into the water in this dynamic fashion. Once in the water, the hull will be caught by tugs which will manoeuvre it into the company’s harbour. The harbour is where the top decks – built as a large, separate structure – will be put in place. Detailed outfitting then follows before the ship is complete and ready for its official naming ceremony at the end of the year.
“We’ve definitely risen to the challenge, as many people will realise, especially when they see how advanced she is right now, given the timeframe since we first started building her,” said Claire Biggar, assistant ship manager at Cammell Laird. “She’s structurally complete and we’re well on our way with the outfitting. For the company, this is an amazing achievement.”
The BBC will have coverage of the launch and the British Antarctic Survey are streaming the event.