The Bishop of Birkenhead today led a service of prayer and blessing for the RRS Sir David Attenborough, a £200m polar research ship, as she was launched from Cammell Laird shipyard into the River Mersey - the first launch of a commercial ship on Merseyside in 30 years.
The Rt Revd Keith Sinclair joined the world-renowned naturalist and broadcaster, after whom the boat is named, and over 3000 members of staff and guests from the world of science and engineering, to witness the historic launch.
The RRS Sir David Attenborough will provide a research base to help scientists tackle some of the most important issues facing humanity, including climate change, future sea level rise and the impact of environmental change on marine life.
Bishop Keith led the service and blessing alongside the Revd Ron Iveson, Vicar of St Oswald, Bidston, and Rural Dean of Birkenhead, who grew up in sight of the shipyard.
Speaking at the event, Bishop Keith said: “It is a great honour to be asked to pray at the first launch of a commercial ship on Merseyside for over 30 years. The RRS Sir David Attenborough is going to help us appreciate all that has been given to us on this planet and conserve it well. I pay tribute to Cammell Laird who have made today possible. As the Psalmist says: ‘O Lord how magnificent are all your works, in wisdom you have made them all.’”
View all the photographs from the event on the Diocese of Chester's Facebook page.
Sir David Attenborough said: “Britain began exploring the Antarctic over a century ago when it seemed to be an empty wilderness of little importance to the world as a whole. Now we recognise that what happens at the poles is of the greatest importance to everyone, everywhere.
“The UK and the British Antarctic Survey have been making discoveries in both regions that enable us to better understand these global processes and this wonderful new research ship will enable British scientists to continue their crucial work in both the Arctic and Antarctic for decades to come.”
The boat has been under construction for several years and comes less than a year after the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, visited Cammell Laird shipyard to meet with staff and to tour the facility as part of a mission weekend called, “Believe in Birkenhead”. He was accompanied by the Bishop of Birkenhead and local church leaders are continuing to pray for all the staff at the shipyard.
Commenting on the news of the launch, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said: “I am filled with joy at the news of the successful launch of RRS Sir David Attenborough. I send my prayers and good wishes to all involved, especially those I met at Cammell Laird during my visit to Birkenhead last year. The whole of Birkenhead can be proud of this achievement. The polar expedition vessel will undertake important work to help us understand more fully the gift of God’s creation here on Earth and how we can take better care of it.”
Director for Mission in the Diocese of Chester, the Revd Lyn Weston said: “The 2017 mission weekend was a wonderful opportunity for the Church to share the love of Jesus Christ with the people of Birkenhead. The Archbishop and his team visited the shipyard as well as schools and family fun events. For many, the mission weekend was an encounter that transformed lives, bringing hope and love which continues to be shared with others today.”
“Believe in Birkenhead” is continuing to be a catalyst for ongoing conversations for ever stronger partnership between Church and industry on Merseyside.