Cadman Cranes gets RRS Sir David Attenborough ready for her next voyage to the Arctic

Selected to carry out a contract lift on behalf of Clarksons Port Services at Harwich International Port, Cadman Cranes was pleased to act as agents for the vessel ‘Sir David Attenborough’, operated by the British Antarctic Survey.

The RRS Sir David Attenborough, a polar research vessel named after the famous naturalist and broadcaster, was built in Birkenhead, England and launched in September 2019.

Commissioned by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the vessel was made infamous following a public poll in 2016 to name the $287 million polar research ship, receiving an overwhelming win for “Boaty McBoatface”.  The name was ultimately vetoed and instead named the ‘Sir David Attenborough’, although the name ‘Boaty McBoatface’ still lives on as one of the autonomous underwater vehicles onboard the ship.

The RRS Sir David Attenborough is a state-of-the-art vessel equipped with advanced scientific equipment and technology for research and exploration in polar regions. It is designed for a range of missions, including studying climate change and its effects on the polar regions, marine biology, and geology. The ship is also equipped with modern amenities, including comfortable cabins, a gym, and a helipad, to support the crew during extended missions.

The ship has received international recognition for its innovative design and technology. It is widely considered one of the most advanced research vessels in the world. It represents a significant investment in the UK’s ability to carry out cutting-edge research in the polar regions and contribute to our understanding of the planet and its future.

Cadman Cranes assisted the team in preparing the vessel for its second voyage to Antarctica, departing from Harwich International Port, located in the town of Harwich in Essex, England.

To complete the lift, Cadman used their flagship Liebherr 180t All Terrain Crane to load a number of plant items required for the journey, including a loading shovel, a dozer, a MEWP and a roller. We then followed up a few days later to lift personnel in a man cage to repair the ship’s radar and communications equipment.

One of the oldest and most historically significant ports in the country, the Harwich International port has a traditional quayside of hollow suspended decking, requiring a system of large timber mats to ensure the ground bearing pressure of 4.5t/m2 was not exceeded. The lift required a significant level of planning and skilled expertise – made possible by utilising Cadman’s Contract Lift service.

A highly capable crane, the Liebherr LTM 1160-5.2 is suitable for use in a range of heavy lifting and construction applications. Thanks to its all-terrain capabilities and compact design, the mobile crane was perfect for the uneven surface and confined space of the quayside. Featuring a maximum lift capacity of 180 metric tonnes and a maximum boom length of 80 meters, it is well-known for its versatility, reliability, and efficiency in handling heavy loads.

The Sir David Attenborough left Harwich on 20 November 2022 to further study the effects of climate change on Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Here’s further reading on the vessel’s mission:

RRS Sir David Attenborough departs for Antarctica – British Antarctic Survey (

RRS Sir David Attenborough – British Antarctic Survey (

If you’ve got a project coming up that requires a knowledgeable and skilled team of lift professionals, get in touch now for a free, no-obligation quote.

Images by Steve Green, Crane Operator