HRH The Duke of Edinburgh opens the University of Plymouth’s Marine Building

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh opened the University of Plymouth’s cutting-edge Marine Building at a special ceremony.

The Duke publicly unveiled the £19m facility, which contains the country’s most sophisticated wave tank testing facilities, and a state-of-the-art ship simulator used to train the next generation of mariner.

The Duke was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Marine Science by the University, in recognition of his decorated career in the Royal Navy.

The visit is the second royal appointment for the University this year after it received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in February, in respect of its marine and maritime excellence.

It also follows the publication of Dark Seas:The Battle of Cape Matapan by University of Plymouth Press, in which Lord High Admiral HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, in a distinguished foreword, made public for the first time his experiences as a midshipman during World War II.

Professor Wendy Purcell, Vice-Chancellor, said:

“For 150 years, the University of Plymouth and its antecedent institutions have been conducting marine and maritime research, education and training. With the opening of our Marine Building, we are heralding a new dawn, not just in the development of Plymouth as a leading higher education institution, but for the city, the region and the marine renewable sector, who will be able to use the building’s research and development facilities to catalyse technological breakthroughs. It was an honour to welcome HRH The Duke of Edinburgh on this special day, and to pay tribute to his distinguished and decorated career with the award of an Honorary Doctorate of Marine Science.”

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was given a tour of the building, and had the opportunity to take the wheel of the new ship simulator, which is used in the training of mariners and merchant seaman. He saw a demonstration of the power of the new wave tanks, and then donned his graduation gown to receive his honorary doctorate.

Then, as a large crowd of VIPs and members of the public watched, The Duke formally opened the building by unveiling an inscription cut into a limestone boulder located outside of the building.

The centrepiece of the Marine Building are the Coastal Ocean and Sediment Transport (COaST) laboratories, home to a number of wave tanks and flumes, where engineers will be able to test devices using different simulated conditions, thanks to wave, current and wind-generation technology.

The building also houses the Marine Navigation Centre, with a full mission bridge simulator to enable students to ‘pilot’ a huge variety of vessels – from super tankers to yachts – in a range of international destinations, complete with an electronic chart suite. Rounding off the facility is a business incubation centre for companies working in the marine renewable and engineering sector.

The facility will also be home to the University’s Marine Institute, which boasts the broadest research portfolio in Europe, covering almost every major sea-related discipline including oceanography, hydrography, marine biology and coastal ecology, as well as engineering, shipping, and professional development for the navigation industry. 

Professor Martin Attrill, Director of the Marine Institute, said:

“Our researchers and scientists are working across the globe on issues relevant to the health of our seas – from acidification and its consequences for sea-life, to coastal erosion, flood risk and the impact of renewable energy technologies upon the environment. This remarkable facility will provide a world-class platform to support and extend the work we do.”

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh opens the University of Plymouth's Marine Building
Coast lab in Marine Building
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh opens the University of Plymouth’s Marine Building

The five-storey building was constructed to extremely high standards of sustainability. Built from around 500 tonnes of steel, 4.8 kilometres of cable and 300 cubic metres of recycled aggregate, it boasts special features that make use of solar gain, natural ventilation and rainwater harvesting to cut down on its energy consumption. It received funding from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Coastal, Ocean And Sediment Transport (COAST) laboratory

A hydrodynamic testing facility, which can generate short and long-crested waves in combination with currents at any relative direction in deep water.
Investigations into sediment dynamics and the effects of wind in the marine environment can also be carried out.
COAST Laboratory, Marine Building

Marine Navigation Centre

With its combination of dedicated systems and flexible teaching space, the Marine Navigation Centre aims to meet the needs of the maritime world.
From learning how to navigate super tanks or super yachts, to providing professional development courses tailored to specific organisations.
Full mission bridge simulator, Marine Navigation Centre, Marine Building

Marine Institute

Representing 3000 staff, researchers and students, the University of Plymouth's Marine Institute is the first and largest such institute in the UK. 

We provide the external portal to our extensive pool of world-leading experts and state-of-the-art facilities, enabling us to understand the relationship between the way we live, the seas that surround us and the development of sustainable policy solutions.

Discover more about the Marine Institute

Marine Institute