Boaty McBoatface could be the name of U.K. Antarctic research ship
Online campaign leads to name suggestions including Usain Boat, It’s Bloody Cold Here, and What Iceberg
When the UK Natural Environment Research Council gave people the opportunity to name their new research ship, they probably weren't expecting the name Boaty McBoatface to rise to the top.
The council is ready to build a $375-million polar research vessel, which should start its voyage to Antarctica 2019. Before that all that, they wanted to give it a name.
The website "Name Our Ship" invited the public to do exactly that. Though the invitation has led to names like RRS Usain Boat, RRS It's Bloody Cold Here, and RRS What Iceberg to achieve a level of notoriety.
But, by far, the most popular name suggestion is RRS Boaty McBoatface, which was proposed by former BBC presenter James Hand. The campaign itself is so popular, the Name Our Ship site keeps crashing.
Our current top 4 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NameOurShip?src=hash">#NameOurShip</a> suggestions. Have you voted yet? <a href="https://t.co/Vv5Or05r9l">https://t.co/Vv5Or05r9l</a> <a href="https://t.co/Uf4u1XyHYf">pic.twitter.com/Uf4u1XyHYf</a>—@NERCscience
"I thought I would throw one into the ring. By Friday night it was leading by a couple of thousand, and when the site crashed on Sunday it was leading by 8,000. It's been utterly bizarre," Hand said to BBC News.
A distant runner up is a more sensible name, RRS Henry Worsley, a British explorer who died attempting to cross Antarctica unaided.
NERC's guidelines include looking for names that provide inspiration and haven't been used before. Boaty McBoatface appears to check those boxes.
Hand has apologized for his suggestion, which quickly went out of his control and has become a bit of a joke on social media.
I'm terribly sorry about all of this, <a href="https://twitter.com/NERCscience">@NERCscience</a>.—@JamesHand
Though the NERC does appear to be taking the name in stride, given the responses of their associate director of communications and engagement.
<a href="https://twitter.com/JamesHand">@JamesHand</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/NERCscience">@NERCscience</a> No need to be sorry James, we are loving it—@JuliaRMaddock
<a href="https://twitter.com/JamesHand">@JamesHand</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/NERCscience">@NERCscience</a> We wanted people to talk about our ship and get involved. We are delighted!—@JuliaRMaddock
Hand still supports Boaty McBoatface and hopes it wins the poll.
My apology for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BoatyMcBoatface?src=hash">#BoatyMcBoatface</a> was in the most British sense. I stand by it being a brilliant name.—@JamesHand
The name has attracted enough attention that it now has multiple Twitter accounts of his own, one of which refers to Hand as its father.
.<a href="https://twitter.com/JamesHand">@JamesHand</a> Dad, come home—@Mcboatfacepride
<a href="https://twitter.com/Mcboatfacepride">@Mcboatfacepride</a> Boaty, be free. Sail the seas and explore the world.—@JamesHand
<a href="https://twitter.com/JamesHand">@JamesHand</a> I am too scared of ridicule—@Mcboatfacepride
"We've had thousands of suggestions made on the website since we officially launched. Many of them reflect the importance of the ship's scientific role by celebrating great British explorers and scientists," Alison Robinson, NERC's director of corporate affairs told the Guardian.
"Others are more unusual but we're pleased that people are embracing the idea in a spirit of fun."
The NERC does have an out to actually naming the boat RRS Boaty McBoatface, or any other name for that matter. In the terms and conditions for the contest, the council noted that the final choice will be up to the Chief Executive of NERC.
If it wins the poll, and still doesn't win however, the NERC might end up disappointing quite a few people online.
Bravo to the person to suggested "RRS Boaty McBoatface" for NERC's <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NameOurShip?src=hash">#NameOurShip</a> competition. <a href="https://t.co/lTI8ICkD6t">https://t.co/lTI8ICkD6t</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WellPlayed?src=hash">#WellPlayed</a>—@katatrepsis
<a href="https://twitter.com/JamesHand">@JamesHand</a> You my man are a hero!!! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BoatyMcBoatface?src=hash">#BoatyMcBoatface</a> <a href="https://t.co/LCoKIwAUpK">pic.twitter.com/LCoKIwAUpK</a>—@benjaminmumford