Houlder wins £1.3M new Polar Research Vessel contract

Houlder has been awarded a £1.3M contract from NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) to provide technical advice for the commissioning of the UK’s new polar research vessel.  The new ship, will be operated in Antarctica and the Arctic by British Antarctic Survey from 2019. Houlder, the employee-owned British SME will work in close collaboration with the vessel’s project management office over the next four years to support the shipyard selection process, plan review construction and delivery.

Rupert Hare, Houlder’s Chief Executive Officer said

“We are delighted to see the project through to completion having been responsible for the vessel concept design to this point. Technical advice to ship owners is our core business, however the polar vessel stands out as a particularly rewarding project. We recognise its significance and share our clients’ ambition to create a world-class asset for the UK science community”

The 120m, 13000t new Polar Research vessel will have a 19,000 nautical mile range. It will have state-of-the art research capability, including a range of aerial and subsea robotic systems, and during research cruises will provide a home for up to 60 scientists and support staff.

The Houlder team will work with a wide range of stakeholders including the client, scientific end-users, shortlisted shipyards and main equipment suppliers. Members will manage and mitigate technical risk as integrated members of the project delivery team.

Rupert Hare concludes

“As an employee owned business, we have a workforce of professionals that thrive on innovative, ambitious projects like the new polar research vessel. We are very much looking forward to getting started.”

The £200m project was announced by Chancellor George Osborne, April 2014. It forms part of a £7bn investment in science infrastructure between now and 2020-21.


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“Charting a ‘solo’ course through this swirl of uncertainty is close to impossible. That’s why we’re often asked by clients to build their knowledge, evaluate their challenges and assess their options. We work closely with research funds and clean-tech providers by bringing decades of industry experience to bear. Our position is independent, technical ‘client friend’ for the decarbonising decades ahead.”


Rupert Hare, Chief Executive Officer

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