David Attenborough is the new namesake of the $290 million research ship that was to be named “Boaty McBoatface” after the name won a public poll held by the National Environment Research Council. While Boaty McBoatface was the voted winner for the name of the British polar research ship, Science Minister Jo Johnson announced today that the vessel is actually named RRS Sir David Attenborough. For die-hard fans of Sir David, a dignitary as the undisputed father of British naturalist documentary, the choice over the less dignified Boaty McBoatface perhaps fails to flicker an eyelid.
For those who believe in the sanctity of a public poll, whether scourged by the wicked sarcasm of the world wide web, the news that Boaty is actually named RRS Sir David Attenborough comes as a disappointing slap in the McBoatface.
Luckily for them, the most inappropriate name for a prestigious environmental research ship will live on, reports the Independent: The Royal Research Ship Sir David Attenborough’s remotely operated subsea vehicle (ROV) now boasts the title of Boaty McBoatface.
The NERC’s public poll saw a slew of genuine entries thrown asunder by votes for a communications manager’s joke entry Boaty McBoatface, which received over 120,000 votes and kept the title firmly ahead of the competition. The NERC and Minister Johnson held a press release to announce that Boaty McBoatface is actually named RRS Sir David Attenborough and provide an explanation to the public.
“The public provided some truly inspirational and creative names, and while it was a difficult decision I’m delighted that our state-of-the-art polar research ship will be named after one of the nation’s most cherished broadcasters and natural scientists,” said Johnson of Attenborough.
“This vessel will carry the Attenborough name for decades to come, as it fulfils its mission to explore the oceans and put Britain at the forefront of efforts to preserve our precious marine environment.”
The McBoatface naming debacle posed a range of issues for the NERC. Experts politicians warned that the humorous name simply wasn’t appropriate on a global naval stage or representative of Britain’s serious efforts in scientific and environmental research. The NERC will be asked to explain and justify its democratized naming process to British MPs when they meet next week on the topic of the Boaty McBoatface vote and their choosing of an alternate name thereafter.
While many have taken to social media to express outrage upon hearing that Boaty McBoatface is actually named RRS Sir David Attenborough, the rights to veto any names voted were always reserved, reports NBC News.
“On Friday, the U.K.’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced it was reserving its right to override the poll, choosing instead to christen the vessel ‘RRS Sir David Attenborough,’ after the much-loved British naturalist and broadcaster who turns 90 on Sunday,” said NBC News.
Attenborough has traveled to every corner of the Earth, and that includes the regions to be explored by the polar research vessel that now bears his name when it launches in 2019. Sir David filmed his 1993 series Life in the Freezer in the Antarctic and is vocal about his keen interest in research into the world’s oceans as a way of developing strategies to conserve the planet and address climate change.
The RRS Sir David Attenborough’s yellow submarine-like ROV, Boaty McBoatface, will be sent out to collect data samples from remote locations and from the deepest Arctic and Antarctic ocean waters.
Sir David has responded to the news with trademark modesty.
“I hope that everyone who suggested a name will feel just as inspired to follow the ship’s progress as it explores our polar regions,” Attenborough told the Independent. “I have been privileged to explore the world’s deepest oceans alongside amazing teams of researchers, and with this new polar research ship they will be able to go further and discover more than ever before.”
Following the news that Boaty McBoatface is actually named RRS Sir David Attenborough, the public may have a heightened interest in polar research, but their interest in public polls of this scale over the internet has taken the harder hit.
[Photo by Larry French/Getty Images]