The UK government has dodged a public relations bullet, choosing to name its new polar research vessel the RRS Sir David Attenborough. The name of the £200 million ship was originally to be decided by a public poll, with the internet banding together to put forward the name Boaty McBoatface. Obviously, it won, collecting more than 124,000 votes in the process, and even beating out strong challenges from the likes of the RRS It's Bloody Cold Here.
You can't hate on Attenborough
However, not everyone was a fan of the McBoatface moniker, including the UK's science minister Jo Johnson, who tactfully suggested there were "more suitable" names out there. The poll was only ever going to be a suggestion, anyway, and the RRS Sir David Attenborough is a good compromise, as it's difficult to argue that the UK's best-loved naturalist and broadcaster doesn't deserve the honor. Plus, the Boaty McBoatface moniker will not be forgotten — it will become the name of the ship's robot submersible.
An image of the sort of submersible that Boaty McBoatface will be. (Image credit: UK Gov)
"The ship has captured the imaginations of millions, which is why we’re ensuring that the Boaty name lives on through the sub-sea vehicle that will support the research crew, and the polar science education program that will bring their work to life," said Johnson in a press release. "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."
Attenborough said he was "truly honored" by the decision, and said that he hopes "everyone who suggested a name will feel just as inspired to follow the ship’s progress as it explores our polar regions."
The ship itself is currently under construction and due to set sail from the UK in 2019. Once afloat, it will be used to explore both Antarctica and the Arctic, with scientists able to spend 60 days at a time onboard the vessel to gather data on ocean conditions and marine biology. Boaty the submersible will be a key part of this, used to collect images and samples from the area around the ship.