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MY SHIP COULD HELP TO SAVE THE WORLD; Attenborough's pride as polar exploration vessel is launched.

Byline: ALISTAIR HOUGHTON Business Editor alistair.houghton@trinitymirror.com @wimpyking

SIR David Attenborough said the ship bearing his name that launched on the Mersey today could help salvage the planet after years of environmental damage.

The legendary TV wildlife presenter yesterday launched the RRS Sir David Attenborough at Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead and warned the earth faced more peril than it had since the disappearance of the dinosaurs.

Sir David was visibly proud to see his name on the side of the ship - almost known as Boaty McBoatface - that will carry out vital research around the North and South Poles.

The RRS Sir David Attenborough will be operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and will be used to study the changes to the Earth's ecosystem.

In his speech to the large crowd at Cammell Laird, he said: "Everybody's future will be affected by what people on this ship will be discovering for years to come. To see this magnificent hull with my name on it is the greatest possible honour".

Sir David and BAS director Professor Dame Jane Francis then pushed a giant green button to trigger the launch - and the hull soon slid smoothly down the slipway and into the water, to the sound of God Save The Queen.

Speaking to the press afterwards, Sir David warned: "The perils facing this planet are far, far greater than they have ever been - or at least since the end of the dinosaurs. Certainly for the last few million years there is nothing to compare with the perils, not only in the scale but in the speed at which they're happening.

"And of course we know now that we are responsible for a lot of these changes that are taking place."

"Being able to monitor them, to know what they are - you have to know what they are before you know how you can fix them and this ship is going to be key to the future salvage of the planet, or at least its preservation."

The launch yesterday was a massive landmark for Cammell Laird as it's the largest civilian ship to be launched in the UK for 30 years.

After a short trip on the Mersey the hull was towed to a wet dock for the next phase of construction. The 1,000-tonne superstructure will be lifted on to the 10,00-tonne hull in the coming days.

Shipyard boss John Syvret said: "Those of us who grew up here in the shadow of a giant know what Cammell Laird means."

Mr Syvret said the yard had a long history of "building the best and most iconic ships in the world" and added: "Great British engineering is here on Merseyside proving that, if we have a level playing field, we can compete with the best in the world".

When a poll was carried out to choose the name of the ship, the name "Boaty McBoatface" was most popular. The Government instead chose to name the boat after Sir David, though a remotely controlled submersible that will be launched from its larger sibling IS called Boaty McBoatface.

Professor Sir Mark Walport, chief executive of UK Research and Innovation, said the naming row got the public talking about polar research. He said "The outcome - which is having our cake and eating it - is perfect."

CAPTION(S):

|Splash down - The RRS Sir David Attenborough - aka Boaty McBoatface - plunges into the River Mersey JAMES MALONEY

|Sir David Attenborough and Professor Dame Jane Francis push the button to officially launch the RRS Sir David Attenborough

|Crowds gather at Cammell Laird shipyard to watch Sir David Attenborough launch the RRS Sir David Attenborough
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 15, 2018
Words:608
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