Work on the £200m ship, now named RRS Sir David Attenborough, will be launched by the famed naturalist himself, who will initiate the lifting of the first 100 tonne hull unit in Birkenhead later today.
The ship was supposed to be named in an online poll, although officials later nixed the McBoatface brand for the research vessel, instead handing the name to a new underwater autonomous vehicle that will operate with the RRS Sir David Attenborough.
Speaking later today, universities and science minister Jo Johnson will say: “The RRS Sir David Attenborough, with Boaty McBoatface operated from her as a robotic underwater vehicle, will be one of the most advanced research ships in the world. It will help inspire the next generation of scientists in the UK and build on our status as one of the world’s leading nations in polar science, engineering and technology.
“With Merseyside’s proud history and expertise in ship building, this project will support over 460 local jobs and apprenticeships, and provide a boost to the region and the whole Northern Powerhouse.”
The ship will set sail in 2019 and form the central focus of a new £1m government-backed Polar Explorer Programme.