RRS Bransfield

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RRS Bransfield
United Kingdom
Name: RRS Bransfield
Namesake: Edward Bransfield
Operator: British Antarctic Survey
Port of registry: Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
Route: Antarctic Research and Logistics
Builder: Robb Caledon Shipbuilders Ltd, Leith
Yard number: 508
Launched: 4 September 1970 by Lady Joyce Fuchs, wife of the then Director of the Survey
Fate: sold to GC Rieber Shipping in 1999
Renamed: Igenpearl in October 1999
Fate: broken up in Mumbai in 2000[1]
General characteristics
Class and type:
Type: Ice Strengthened, steel hull
Tonnage: 4,816 GT, 1,577 NT
Length: 325 ft (99 m)
Beam: 60 ft (18 m)
Draught: 22 ft (6.7 m)
Ice class: Lloyds 100 A1 Ice Class 1*
Installed power:
  • Diesel-electric 5000 SHP
  • 6400 bhp per engine
Propulsion: single variable-pitch propeller
  • 13.25 knots (2 engines)
  • 10.75 knots (1 engine)
  • 55 days (2 engines)
  • 90 days (1 engine)
Capacity: 3450 m3
Complement: 24 crew; 13 officers; 58 expeditioners
Notes: [2][3][4]

RRS Bransfield was an ice-strengthened cargo vessel, purpose-built for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).


RRS Bransfield was designed by consultants Graham & Woolnaugh of Liverpool for NERC, and built by Robb Caledon Shipbuilders Ltd, Leith. She was named after Edward Bransfield RN (1785-1852), who discovered the north west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, roughly surveyed the South Shetland Islands, claiming King George Island and Clarence Island for Great Britain. Bransfield was the first man to chart part of the Antarctic mainland.[3]

This was the second vessel to be named after Bransfield by BAS or its predecessors. The first was HMS Bransfield, the original expedition ship for Operation Tabarin, a secret British expedition to Antarctica during World War Two. It established the first permanent British bases on the Antarctic Peninsula and became the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey in 1945 (renamed BAS in 1962). This vessel was a wooden Norwegian sealer built in 1918 as the Veslekari, and renamed for the expedition.[5] Her service with Tabarin was inglorious - she proved to be unseaworthy, and had to be replaced before the expedition left English waters in November 1943.

In 1993/94, while in the Weddell Sea Bransfield suffered an engine room fire.[6]

In May 1999, she was sold to GC Rieber Shipping as part of the contract for the long-term charter of her replacement, RRS Ernest Shackleton. She was subsequently renamed Igenpearl, and was scrapped in Mumbai in 2000.[1]


RRS Bransfield was BAS's main supply vessel for 29 years, from 1970/71 to 1998/99. She also had limited facilities for on-board research. There was a fully equipped hospital bay on board.[4]

For much of her career her joint Masters were John Cole and Stewart Laurence.[7][8] Bransfield represented NERC in the Review of the Fleet at Spithead in 1977, held to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's jubilee.


  1. ^ a b "Ships recycled by us". Bajinath Melaram. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  2. ^ "RRS BRANSFIELD - Yard No 508 - Antarctic Survey Vessel - N.E.R.C. - Built 1970". The Loftsman. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  3. ^ a b "History of RRS Bransfield". British Antarctic Survey. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  4. ^ a b "RRS Bransfield - Detailed Information". Dartcom. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  5. ^ "Norwegian Merchant Fleet 1939-1945". Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  6. ^ "JR39a Cruise Report" (pdf). British Antarctic Survey. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  7. ^ "Cole Channel". Antarctic Gazetteer. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  8. ^ "Stuart Lawrence - Fuchs Medallist 2003". BAS Club. Archived from the original on February 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 

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