The Natural Environment Research Council's newest research vessel is the result of £200 million (about $288 million) of government funding, thousands of tons of steel, and years of planning. It will also, if the internet gets its way, be called "Boaty McBoatface."
Other options include the RRS Seaward
Rather than simply name the 15,000 ton ship something suitably majestic, the NERC decided to ask the internet to come up with a name, opening a poll on its website and asking for tweets using the hashtag #nameourship. "Boaty McBoatface" might not quite fit the brief — the NERC asked that submitted names were "inspirational and about environmental and polar science" — but the name has captured the hearts of thousands. With more than 27,000 votes already, the name is currently the frontrunner among a selection that includes the RRS It's Bloody Cold Here, a ship named after Halo's Pillar of Autumn, and — in an Arrested Development-inspired entry — the RRS Seaward.
The name also fulfills the NERC's third condition: that it hasn't been used for other science ships. Unless the scientific community has been keeping Dr. McBoatface's work a secret for fear they'd be laughed out of the room, it's safe to say the name won't have been employed before.
Strangely, the name hasn't been used before
The NERC might be great at researching polar science stuff, but it's apparently not so hot when it comes to internet history. Even a cursory check would've shown that asking the internet to name anything is a bad idea, as Mountain Dew found out in 2012 when the forces of 4chan conspired to name its new flavor "Hitler Did Nothing Wrong." The drink maker was forced to take the poll down, conceding the loss to the internet, but the NERC should avoid that fate — it's cleverly marked the submitted names as "suggestions" only.
The poll's not over until April 16th, meaning there's still plenty of time for a more boring option to rise to the top, and even if Boaty McBoatface remains the choice of the masses, the final selection will be made by the NERC's panel. Before then, you can lend your support to the good ship Boaty McBoatface on the NERC's dedicated site — if you can get on. Since the poll went live, it's been hammered by web traffic, showing that nothing gets people excited about science so much as a silly name.