….. and in one year’s time we’ll be taking it for a spin.
Today was the day that the Sir David Attenborough was due to be launched into the Mersey.
At 129m in length, its 10,000 tonne hull would take some shifting, and then some catching when it made it into the water.
Given that we will be involved in the fitness-for-science trials in a year’s time, we sent our reporter along to watch, and make sure it floated and didn’t sink.
Here she is on the slipway (vessel not reporter!) being put on the greased ramps by the multi-wheel trucks that move it in and out of the shed where it has been constructed so far.
It doesn’t yet have a full superstructure because this won’t fit in the shed, so the plan is to float the main part of the hull, tow it into the adjacent dockyard basin and then finish the top off for the rest of the year.
Courtesy of Cammell-Laird / NERC / BAS
So from a prime vantage point on the opposite side of the Mersey, to get a full view of the splash it makes as it enters the water, our team member sent us these snaps – and it is as huge as we thought it was.
So, all ready to go, speeches made, three tugs ready to catch it, one ready to give it a little pull to get it moving – Royal Artillery fire a very big gun – and Sir David Attenborough presses the “launch” button.
Slowly but surely with a little pull from the tug she starts to move.
Picks up a bit of speed ……. and ……. splash, water over the transome and swamps the stern working deck.
And it floats …….
Caught by a tug, and the other three come into help – the Mersey had to be dredged to stop the Attenborough running a ground.
This is the largest non-military vessel to be launched in the UK for 30 years, and launched down a slip way in 30 years as well.
It starts to drift up river and spins its bow into the current, even though it is slack water of the tide.
It still has the bow bracing props attached to stop it tilting nose down on launch down the slipway. These will get taken off now.
Tugs have finally wrestled it under control and the local yacht club have come to take a look and give it a suitable send off.
Towed back in in front of the shed – where the superstructure is ready to be added as it is already assembled in the shed to the left.
And the tugs tow the hull round into the basin adjacent to the ship yard.
In the water in less than a minute ……. in the basin within 20 mins. All very efficient and run like clockwork.
And strung as a short video …… at not quite real speed!
And the weather has brought out not just the sun to the NE of England……
….. and a bumper cherry crop, plus ……..
Muscadet ………. .
Grapes growing in the NE of England – who’d have thought it?