There’s Been A Plot Twist In The Tale Of ‘Boaty McBoatface’


Over the last few days, what started out as a serious poll to name a £200 million Royal Research Ship turned into a pretty brilliant joke.

We thought a team of scientists could soon be sailing around the poles in the brilliantly named RRS Boaty McBoatface – after 27,000 people voted for the name in an online poll.

But according to the competition rules, the final selection will be decided by the NERC. Lord West – ex-First Sea Lord – backed up these claims that the boat name could be chosen by a panel of experts, even if the public overwhelmingly votes to call it Boaty McBoatface.

Lord West, ex-First Sea Lord, added he was rather proud of the ‘silly names’ that had been suggested but hoped none were chosen. Spoilsport!

The Natural Environment Research Council had urged people to name its ship in competition, which saw Boaty McBoatface easily topping the poll, while the second place pick – RRS Henry Worsley – trails with 3,000 votes. Worsley died trying to make the first unassisted solo crossing of the Antarctic in January.

The floating lab  could’ve been named after others famous explorers or even everyone’s favourite nature broadcaster David Attenborough, but it seems that piss-take titles are – obviously – a lot more popular.

Other joke names put forward include; Pingu; Usain Boat; Clifford The Big Red Boat; Boatimus Prime and It’s Bloody Cold Here.

Lord West told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

It’s a typical thing of the Brits going mad – normally silly reason, rather than this time of the year. I think I would probably go for an Arctic or Antarctic explorer – that would be appropriate – bearing in mind this is a key bit of research where we are probably leading the world, and we should all be very proud of it. I’m rather proud that we have silly names going around, but I hope we don’t select one.

The man behind the suggestion of Boaty McBoatface, James Hand, says he has since apologised to the NERC, as the poll website crashed under the weight of people trying to cast their votes (assumably for Boaty McBoatface).

He said:

I read the story about naming the ship on the BBC website on Thursday and some of the entries were really funny. [So] 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. I’ve apologised profusely to the people behind the website. It was actually nothing to do with me. It was my suggestion but the storm that has been created has legs of its own.

Responded to James’ apology on Twitter, Julia Maddock – acting associate director of communications and engagement at the NERC – said that her organisation was ‘loving it’.

To have your say you can vote here.