The RRS Discovery is an enormous auxiliary steamship that was constructed to conduct research projects in and around Antarctica. In 1901, she was launched, and it was the last traditional wooden three-masted ship to be built in the United Kingdom. In maritime vernacular, RRS stands for Royal Research Ship, and this is exactly what the Discovery was.
For her first ever mission, the RRS Discovery was tasked with voyaging to Antarctica, for the British National Antarctic Expedition. On board was Robert Falcon Scott, as well as Ernest Shackleton. This would be their first journey to the Antarctic. It was highly successful and known as the Discovery Expedition.
The company purchasing the model was Viking Cruises, via Viking Expedition Ship Ltd, and they initially advised of size restrictions due to the fact that the model will be kept in a glass display case. After liaising with our naval architect, the measurements were established to be 800 millimetres in length, 255 millimetres in width, and 460 millimetres in height without the base, and 500 millimetres with the base. Viking provided reference pictures of the RRS Discovery, which was docked in Dundee at the time, and these aided in allowing the model ship to encapsulate as much realism and historical accuracy as possible, thereby heightening the overall quality. The model was to be displayed on a cruise liner in their fleet.
Viking Cruises allow tourists and travellers to explore Antarctica, the Arctic and the Great Lakes on their specialised and purpose-built expedition ships. They were founded in 1997 when they purchased four ships in Russia. Then in 2000, Viking purchased Europe’s KD River Cruises, massively growing their fleet. They leveraged forty years of river cruising experience and also secured rights to important docking locations in several large European cities.
In the same year, Viking managed to expand into the American market, and they established a sales and marketing office in Los Angeles, California.
In the past two decades, Viking have exponentially developed to be the world’s leading ‘River Cruise Line,’ and with the launch of their very own ocean fleet, Viking have also become a forerunner in small ship ocean cruising.
The model of the RRS Discovery was to be as historically accurate as possible. Production began in early September and was completed by the end of October, before being shipped in the first week of November.
Throughout the process there were three bodies other than PSM: Vard, Viking and the Polar Museum. This high-level of collaboration reflects the effort poured into this model, as well as the extreme intricacy and historical accuracy. It needed to be of the utmost quality as it will be displayed on a cruise ship, for many tourists and enthusiasts to see.
Plenty of research had to go into the making of the RRS Discovery, to ensure the aforementioned historical accuracy and intricacy.
Our model rendition of the RRS Discovery was made in our workshop in Mauritius, and so it was entirely composed of wood and fibreglass. Before any construction could be done, agreements were made between PSM, Viking Cruises, Vard and the Polar Museum. Dimensions, details and aesthetics needed to be established, as well as the financial side of things, as well as a schedule.
First the hull was constructed, measured precisely to fulfil the specific requirements. After this, the foundations for the upper deck were made, with smaller wooden planks being placed on the flanks of the ship, and they eventually lined the top of the ship, concealing the interior reinforcements. Subsequent additions were made, with the base for the sails and even the quarterdeck being incorporated.
The next steps were painting the hull, deck and more miscellaneous details, as well as fitting the ship with its rigging, a stack and the masts. The base of the hull was painted a deep red, with the remainder being coated in a glossy black, and the deck was adorned in a light brown, as well as white and beige.
With the build coming to a close, the rigging was tied up and the paint polished. The RRS Discovery’s bowsprit was included at the front, with rigging leading down to it, and parts of the deck were refined and re-evaluated to ensure of its precision and detail.
The ship turned out to be of a wonderful condition, and it was delivered to Viking Cruises with no complications. They were highly satisfied with the work that had been carried out, and it is now proudly displayed in one of their cruise ships.
Restrictions from COVID did prove to be a slight obstacle in terms of communication, as well as the building process itself, as the workshop was closed for a brief period. However, dedication on all fronts ensured the project was completed on time and to an excellent quality.
Overall, the project was completed on time and to the best quality, with all parties highly satisfied. We couldn’t be happier with the results, and are extremely proud of how it encapsulates the legacy of the RRS Discovery, and its ever-important expedition of the same name.
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