A POPULAR polar research ship is set to depart from the UK this month for its second voyage to Antarctica.

The RRS Sir David Attenborough departs from Harwich on Sunday, November 20, with 45 crew and personnel on board for a short stop at Portsmouth to taken on fuel before leaving for Antarctica.

Its first point of call will be Stanley, Falkland Islands, three and a half weeks later. From there it will continue to the freezing region.

Dame Jane Francis, professor, and director of British Antarctic Survey (BAS), said: “The world’s eyes on COP27 in Egypt, and climate change at the forefront of all our minds.

“Because of this, we are reminded of the critical role this ship is going to play over the next three decades in improving our understanding of climate change and the impacts on our environment and society.”

During its second mission south, the floating laboratory will transfer station teams, food, science equipment, cargo and fuel to BAS research stations.

The ship will also be carrying out trials of polar science equipment, a critical step in the ship’s commissioning.

During the summer, the ship spent several weeks conducting science equipment trials around the UK, testing acoustic instruments and winch systems in shallow water.

The equipment trials in Antarctica will involve similar tests but in more polar extreme conditions.

In particular, the team will be testing the ships special equipment for trace metal research.

This includes a bespoke-designed winch system with metal-free cables and a Conductivity, Temperature and Depth (CTD) array made of titanium, used to detect trace metals at depth.

It will also be testing a new deep water trawl capability, undertaking trawls in up to 6000m of water.

Dr Sophie Fielding, science capability research lead at BAS, added: “We’re really excited to be taking the ship back to Antarctica.

“It performed well in the first leg of science trials and I’m looking forward to putting the ship’s science capability through its paces in polar conditions.

The ship will also fly a rainbow flag in celebration of Polar Pride Day on Friday, November 18.