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Bespoke turnkey solution aids the build of the Sir David Attenborough polar vessel



Key benefits:

  • Fully-integrated package
  • Complete solution with one contact
  • Cost savings with bespoke design
  • Established track record


The project:

As part of the primary contractor’s, Cammell Laird, full turnkey ship build of the high-profile RRS Sir David Attenborough polar research vessel, ALE executed the site transportation, load-outs, lifting and barge works of ship sections weighing a combined total of 17,500t in Birkenhead, UK.

The priority was to find the best solution possible at each stage to increase client savings and reduce disruptions to the overall project schedule. All equipment, design and engineering was provided in-house by ALE, with no third parties involved.

 Effective co-ordination between all parties was key to avoiding disruptions to the overall project schedule. The first phase of work was the design of the stern section build and transportation jig, with specially design and fabricated adaptor plates for the jacks so it could be jacked into position on a decline. The build jig for Block 10 was also used as a transportation frame.

Once the shipbuilders had built the stern section in two halves, ALE weighed, jacked, skidded and transported the two sections to the west quay. ALE joined the two sections using SPMTs.

To provide the full-service package, ALE provided the grillage design, sea-fastening, and load-out of the stern section as well as the subsequent load-in and transportation at Cammell Laird.  The next phase involved the transportation of the stern section to the north slipway, where it was offloaded onto jacks and jacked-down into position. ALE used Teflon shuffling equipment to align the stern section with the aft end of the vessel so Cammell Laird could easily welded the sections together.

To enable the forward end of the vessel to be constructed, the Sir David Attenborough vessel was moved 40m down the slipway using 228 axle lines of SPMT.  For a cost-effective move, ALE designed bespoke transport frames and utilised transport beams to enable the vessel to be lifted and avoid the costly welding to the vessel.

The complete hull, weighing 10,000t, was moved 120m down the slipway to its final launch position using 300 axle lines of SPMT.  Once launched, the vessel was positioned at Cammell Laird’s wet basin and moored on the south quay whilst waiting for the final block, 51.

As block 51 was too tall to be built inside the north hall, it had to be built separately and lifted into position. The final site move involved transporting block 51, weighing 535t, to the south quay and was lifted in tandem with ALE’s LR1750 crawler crane and AK912 pedestal crane onto the vessel.

John Davis, Senior Sales Manager for ALE said: “We are extremely proud to be so involved in such a landmark project and it really showcases our capabilities to provide customised solutions for the shipbuilding industry. In consideration of the vessel’s sheer size and weight, our client chose to work with us because of our long-standing experience in this specialism and trusted us to complete manoeuvres of this magnitude safely and successfully.”


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