'Boaty McBoatface': Internet answers call to name $375M research vessel
A rendering of the future NERC icebreak (Twitter/ @NERCscience)
Published Monday, March 21, 2016 7:44AM EDT
The British government is learning an important lesson about why you really should never put your trust in the Internet.
The country’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) opened a poll on its website last week, asking for help christening its new icebreaker, a massive CDN$375 million vessel set to sail in 2019.
The ship, the most advanced British vessel ever, is intended for polar research, the NERC said, to “put the U.K. at the forefront of ocean research for years to come.”
As such, the department was hoping for an inspirational name, such as Royal Research Ship Shackleton, RRS Endeavour, or the Falcon.
Instead, they got Boaty McBoatface.
Since the poll opened, thousands of regular folks have voted, but the far and away winner so far is Boaty McBoatface. Actually, it’s difficult to verify how far ahead McBoatface is in the race, because the Name Our Ship website crashed on Sunday and is still down today.
The agency tweeted on Monday that the #NameOurShip website is undergoing maintenance “to improve the user experience.”
But as of Sunday, McBoatface had earned many more votes than the second suggestion: RRS Henry Worsley, to commemorate the British explorer who died in January while trying to complete a solo trek across the Antarctic.
There have been plenty of other silly suggestions so far, such as RRS Ice Ice Baby, and RRS Pole Dancer, but it appears there’s something about Boaty McBoatface that really speaks to people.
Of course, the poll is just meant to draw the public’s interest in the new ship and the NERC reserves the right to choose the name itself. But it remains to be seen if they will defer to the people.
A former BBC Radio host, James Hand, is taking credit for the suggestion, telling the BBC that he had actually been in favour of one of the other suggestions: Clifford, the Big Red Boat.
Hand said he now feels kind of bad that his suggestion has proven so popular, and has apologized “profusely to the people behind the website.” But he also said if the people want McBoatface, then they want McBoatface.
"It was actually nothing to do with me. It was my suggestion but the storm that has been created has legs of its own,” he said.
The Top 10 suggestions as of Sunday:
- RRS Boaty McBoatface
- RRS Henry Worsley
- RRS Pillar of Autumn
- RRS David Attenborough
- RRS Boaty McBoatface the return
- RRS Boat
- RRS Pingu
- RRS It’s bloody cold here
- RRS Usain Boat
- RRS Tiffany Aching