Ecospeed decision validated by Ernest Shackleton

British Antarctic Survey’s decision to apply the Ecospeed hard coating to the hull of its new polar research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough has been validated after the recent drydocking of sister vessel RRS Ernest Shackleton.

The 80m long vessel, initially coated with Ecospeed in 2009, drydocked last month at the Orskov shipyard, in Frederikshavn, Denmark. The hull was found to be in almost perfect condition.

RRS Ernest Shackleton, launched in 1995, is a logistics vessel used to transport cargo, fuel and passengers. The ship has basic scientific capability and undertakes research work in the Antarctic.

Built by Kverner Klevin Leirvik, Norway as the MV Polar Queen for the Rieber Shipping of Bergen she was deployed in the Antarctic by other national programmes before being acquired by The British Antarctic Survey in August 1999.

In eight seasons operating RRS Ernest Shackleton with Ecospeed coating, BAS had to touch up Ecospeed only in areas of mechanical damage and carry out minor repairs around the bow, the most susceptible area to ice impact. Following the performance on Ernest Shackleton, the hard coating was applied in 2015 to the hull of sister ship, RRS James Clark Ross. Results were again exemplary. James Clark Ross is scheduled to drydock next month.

BAS Superintendent Andrew Webb, said: “Shackleton’s hull condition is the best I have seen after typical ice year operations.” After sailing for six years BAS had to account for touch-up coats to areas impacted by the ice during the many seasons in the Polar region. This year they needed to repair even less surface area than expected, despite the vessel encountering heavy Antarctic ice.

The durability of the coating and the ease with which repairs can be carried out were the reasons why BAS/NERC selected Ecospeed for the newbuild RRS Sir David Attenborough. The 15,000gt polar research ship is under construction at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, Liverpool, UK.

The shipyard initially wanted to apply its preferred supplier’s coating system, but based on their experience with the Ernest Shackleton and the James Clark Ross, BAS chose Ecospeed instead. The coating does not need to be applied under strict environmental conditions or require any sophisticated application equipment.

RRS Sir David Attenborough is scheduled for operational duties in 2019 and will be one of the most advanced polar research vessels in the world.

About BAS
British Antarctic Survey (BAS), an institute of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), delivers and enables world-leading interdisciplinary research in the Polar Regions. Its skilled science and support staff based in Cambridge, Antarctica and the Arctic, work together to deliver research that uses the Polar Regions to advance our understanding of Earth as a sustainable planet. Through its extensive logistic capability and know-how BAS facilitates access for the British and international science community to the UK polar research operation. Numerous national and international collaborations, combined with an excellent infrastructure help sustain a world leading position for the UK in Antarctic affairs. For more information visit

Related product(s):


Long-lasting protection for underwater ship hulls

Show product