British Public Vote To Name £200 Million Research Vessel ‘Boaty McBoatface’

British voters have chosen to name the UK’s new £200 million polar research vessel “Boaty McBoatface.”

After inviting members of the public to help name Britain’s most technologically advanced research ship, the Natural Environment Research Council confirmed Sunday that voters had overwhelmingly chosen the name RRS Boaty McBoatface in an online poll.

With a whopping 124,109 votes, the suggestion beat out scores of suggestions, including the names of famous explorers and scientists like Sir David Attenborough. By the time polling had closed on Saturday, Boaty McBoatface had already received four times more votes than runner-up RRS Poppy-Mai, which would have honored a 16-month-old girl with incurable cancer.

Issuing a short statement on its website, the NERC thanked members of the public for getting involved in the non-binding competition and added that the final decision as to what the £200 million vessel’s name will be would be announced “in due course.”

RRS James Clark Previous NERC ships have been named after explorers like James Clark Ross. [Image via Crochet.David | Wikimedia Commons|Boaty McBoatface went viral across the UK last month after it was submitted as a possible name for the ship by former BBC radio host James Hand, who told The Guardian that he was actually surprised by the controversy his suggestion had caused.

“This is actually nothing to do with me,” he said. “I made the suggestion but the storm that’s been created – it’s got legs of its own. I just feel it’s a very British thing, which a lot of people have pointed out.”

Although Hand said he stood by Boaty McBoatface as a “brilliant name” for a serious research vessel, he did apologize “profusely” to contest organizers for having suggested the name in the first place. Hand also added that he had actually voted for RRS David Attenborough, which finished the online competition in fifth behind RRS It’s bloody cold here. Taking to social media after polling closed at the weekend, Hand mused it had been “a crazy few weeks.”

In all, the NERC received over 7,000 entries during its month-long public contest. Notable suggestions included RRS Onion Knight and RRS I Like Big Boats & I Cannot Lie.

If NERC chief executive Duncan Wingham ultimately decides to honor the competition winner, it will represent a huge departure from the royal organization’s other research ships. Previous names have been used to pay tribute to the likes of arctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and naval officer James Clark Ross.

Despite receiving a flurry of criticism, the name has also drawn support from leading figures across the UK’s maritime community.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 last month, former First Sea Lord Alan West said he was “rather proud” of the “silly names” that had been suggested by members of the British public.

“It’s a typical thing of the Brits going mad – normally silly reason, rather than this time of the year,” he said.

Once it has been christened, this new vessel will be the largest and most advanced research ship in the UK. At 128 meters long, the NERC claims the ship “will help put the UK at the forefront of ocean research for years to come,” and the vessel is expected to be operational by 2019. It will host a crew of up to 90 scientists and research staff.

This isn’t the first time a public naming competition has gone awry.

In 2012, soft drinks giant Mountain Dew launched a poll designed to enable consumers to help name its new apple-flavored drink. The company was forced to pull the plug on the contest after the name “Hitler did nothing wrong” won the vote.

[Image via Tom L-C | Wikimedia Commons| Cropped and Resized | CC BY-SA 3.0 ]