Polar Explorer

Welcome to the Polar Explorer Programme

In 2014 the Government announced a £200 million investment for a new polar research ship. The RRS Sir David Attenborough will enable world-leading research in Antarctica and the Arctic for the next 25 years.

Fully equipped with the latest instrumentation for the purposes of carrying out research in polar-regions, this vessel will have improved ice strengthened capability and greater endurance over existing polar research vessels.  This will enable scientists and technicians to stay at sea for longer and study the polar environments during the Antarctic and Arctic summer months.  It will also serve as a logistic support vessel for BAS research stations.  

A state-of-the-art robotic subsea vehicle named Boaty McBoatface will be on board RRS Sir David Attenborough and will allow scientists to gather data remotely from places where humans are unable to go.

With funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) we have created the Polar Explorer programme. Working with BEIS, NERC, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and others we will use this historic occasion to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. We are using the build, launch and operation of RRS Sir David Attenborough and Boaty McBoatface to engage young people in science, enable them to understand the scientific process and enhance their understanding of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) concepts.

Visit our interactive resource collection, get involved and develop your inner explorer.


Get involved

  • Educational Resources

    Get involved with the Polar Explorer with our fantastic resources, available to download for free.


  • polar ambassadors

    An active network of polar ambassadors will work directly with schools to deliver an inspiring enrichment programme. Want to join the team?

    Register your interest

  • be inspired

    You can get involved in a variety of ways, from following news and attending events, to sharing your own resources and activities.

    Coming soon

Find out more

Linton Roberts, Managing Director of Cammell Laird Shipyard, talks about the impact on jobs, skills and the shipbuilding industry, that the new NERC polar research vessel will have. 

Online community

Our partners




 Thanks to the National Oceanography Centre and BAS for the images.