The #NameOurShip contest being held by the Natural Environment Research Council in the United Kingdom has caused the organization’s website to crash several times since its inception, after “RRS Boaty McBoatface” earned over 26,000 votes, earning the name the “most loved overall” designation by the event’s participants and seemingly, from organizers as well.
The contest is reported to run from March 16 until April 16, and the top suggestion will be used as the official name for the new £200 million (approximately $288 million) research ship currently being built by Cammell Laird in Birkenhead and is expected to bring a “significant economic boost to Merseyside” and the surrounding area.
The 15,000-tonne ship, which if current contest leaders win may be named “Boaty McBoatface,” is described as being the biggest and most advanced polar research vessel in the history of the U.K., according to the #NameOurShip website.
The vessel, which is expected to be completed in 2019, is said to be designed with the “latest robotic, satellite and underwater monitoring technology,” with the intention of serving scientists who are attempting to understand how “ice is evolving as our climate changes, and the consequences for global sea-level rise.”
The NERC states that the new ship will have a helipad, will carry two helicopters, and will be able to remain in pack-ice for up to 60 days, the longest of any U.K. polar research vessel ever. Research that is to be conducted on the new boat will include “monitoring the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet” as well as “looking at ocean circulation,” and “investigating the diversity of marine life.”
To be included with the state-of-the art vessel are marine gliders, airborne robots, and robotic submarines to allow scientists the ability to gather data remotely on a wide range of test subjects from biological to atmospheric.
“We’re delighted by the enthusiasm and creativity people have shown,” Alison Robinson, a director with the NERC, was quoted by the Swindon Advertiser, stating that she hoped the final name chosen would be as “inspirational” as the ship will be when it first sails toward the Antarctic in 2019. The U.K. publication stated that the group seemed to “put faith” in the British public to come up with a “sensible” name.
“Sailing due south in a vessel that sounds like it was christened by a five-year-old who has drunk three cartons of Capri-Sun,” is how the Guardian described the current state of the contest and the Boaty McBoatface leading entry.
While “Boaty McBoatface” is the clear leader at this point, the contest has only been running for five days and there is close to 25 days left. Other names that appear to be popular with the NERC contest participants include “RRS Pingu” and “RRS Usain Boat.” One person, Sandeep Korotana, was reported to suggest that the vessel be named the “RRS Sandeep Korotana.”
Another, more sombre suggestion, was naming the ship after Henry Worsley, an explorer from the U.K. who died from an infection after attempting to cross the Antarctic in January 2016, as reported by the BBC.
Ms. Robinson noted that the final decision on the name of the new polar research ship would ultimately be in the hands of a panel made up with representatives selected by the NERC. While the NERC director reportedly declined to comment on the chances of RRS Boaty McBoatface making it through official vetting, Robinson noted that “thousands” of suggestions for the new polar research vessel have been received and that the council was delighted with the public’s response.