SIR David Attenborough and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit Cammell Laird today for the naming ceremony of a Polar research ship honouring the broadcasting legend.

The event, marking the closing stages of work on RRS Sir David Attenborough, is due to take place at the Birkenhead shipyard around 1.30pm.

It will launch a three-day immersive festival of science, engineering and ship building that is expected to attract thousands of people. Ice Worlds will bring the Polar Regions to life with over 20 exhibition stands.

During today's ceremony the royals will follow tradition by smashing a bottle of champagne against the hull.

Sir David returned to Cammell Laird in July last year to launch the next stage of work on the ship, which is now complete.

Ahead of today's ceremony, he said: "This is the third milestone event that I have attended during the construction of this superb ship, and I have enjoyed watching progress from keel-laying till now.

"It is a remarkable engineering achievement.

"We all need this ship. Our world is changing and it's clear that people around the world – especially the young – are becoming more and more concerned about a climate catastrophe.

"But human beings are resilient and skilful.

"If we pay attention to the scientific knowledge that those who will sail in this ship will gather, then we will stand a much better chance of finding a way to deal with what lies ahead."

The decision to name it RRS Sir David Attenborough was made in 2016 by then Science Minister Jo Johnson, following a public vote staged by NERC beating its nearest rival, Boaty McBoatface.

In the coming weeks specialist engineers will complete the interior fit-out.

A programme of technical and equipment testing will then take place around the River Mersey and in deeper waters around the UK.

Ice trials in the northern hemisphere are planned from March 2020, followed by a science rehearsal cruise from August 2020. The ship is scheduled to enter full service next October.

Laird's chief executive John Syvret CBE, said: "Cammell Laird CEO John Syvret CBE, said: "This is a historic day for Cammell Laird, and today's naming of the RRS Sir David Attenborough, arguably one of the most complex vessels afloat, underpins our re-emergence to the premier league of the global shipbuilding community.

"It has taken 20 years to regenerate this infrastructure, capability and capacity, and I am extremely proud of all who have worked tirelessly to achieve today’s milestone.

"This vessel represents our greatest challenge to date, and I thank NERC and British Antarctic Survey for their trust and ongoing support to deliver this iconic vessel.

"This is the 'Pride of Merseyside' and my special thanks go out to our workforce, TU, management and staff, together with our supply chain and all their families for their dedication and commitment to the project and the company."

A new work – Ark – by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage CBE, commemorates the naming.

The poem will be premiered in front of thousands of people gathered on the shipyard quayside to watch the ceremony.

The British Pobjoy Mint has created a commemorative £2 coin featuring the ship and a 50p coin featuring the autonomous submersible Boaty McBoatface.

Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director of British Antarctic Survey, said: "This magnificent ship will take UK scientists deep into the heart of the ice-covered polar seas. With state-of-the-art technology they will discover how drastically the polar oceans and the ice have been changed by our actions.

"The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere warns that the oceans are warming and becoming more acidic with CO2, glaciers are melting and sea level is rising across the planet, and the polar bears and penguins are losing their homes.

"This ship will take us to the ends of the Earth to help us understand our future world."

Sir Mark Walport, chief executive of UK Research and Innovation, said: "The RRS Sir David Attenborough is one of the most advanced polar research vessels in the world and will transform how ship-borne science is conducted in the Polar Regions.

"It will provide scientists with state-of-the-art facilities to undertake crucial research into the impact of global change on our oceans, marine biodiversity and climate, and ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of polar science."

Day two of the event (Friday, September 27) is set aside for pre-registered schools.

Day three (Saturday, September 28) is a day for families.

A few tickets are still available from