Boaty McBoatface could be the name of U.K. Antarctic research ship

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.

Online campaign leads to name suggestions including Usain Boat, It’s Bloody Cold Here, and What Iceberg

This polar research ship will set sail in 2019 and is backed by 200 million pounds of British government funding. Members of the the public have been asked to put forward names for the state-of-the-art vessel and will be chosen by a panel of experts. (NERC/EPA)

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. 

"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. 

Though the NERC does appear to be taking the name in stride, given the responses of their associate director of communications and engagement.

Hand still supports Boaty McBoatface and hopes it wins the poll. 

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.

"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. 


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