The U.K.'s Natural Environment Research Council was just looking for a name.
Cool, right? Those names all sound extremely nautical and legit. Anyway, the campaign was announced ages ago (March 17!) (Thursday!), so let's check in and see what the Internet has suggested:
Yeah okay, so it looks just like one day after the poll launched, the Internet threw its support behind the name RRS Boaty McBoatface.
I see no problem here.
"We’re delighted by the enthusiasm and creativity people have shown to help the Natural Environment Research Council make sure the new ship has a name as inspirational as she will be when she sets off for the polar seas in 2019," Alison Robinson, NERC's director of corporate affairs, said in a statement. "We’ve had thousands of suggestions made on the website since we officially launched; many of them reflect the importance of the ship’s scientific role by celebrating great British explorers and scientists.
"We are pleased that people are embracing the idea in a spirit of fun. We have suggested some criteria for the name on our website and the final decision will be announced in due course. We are very much enjoying hearing everyone's ideas."
Just to be clear, NERC isn't stuck with Boaty McBoatface, or whatever the eventual winner of this online campaign is. Robinson told the Guardian that a panel will make the final call. According to the newspaper, other suggestions included:
• Its Bloody Cold Here
• Big Metal Floaty Thingy-thing
So many great options. It's a shame this panel will have to pick just one.
Boaty McBoatface was suggested by James Hand, a former BBC presenter who seems pretty sorry about the whole thing.
"I read the story about naming the ship on the BBC website on Thursday and some of the entries were really funny — my favorite was Clifford The Big Red Boat," he told the BBC. "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 Sunday it was leading by 8,000. It's been utterly bizarre."
(Look, just as an aside — and feel free to disagree with me here — I don't think our pal James should feel too bad about this. I mean, we're all here talking about this ship now, right? Would we be doing that if the Falcon was leading the campaign? Don't think so, guys. Deep down, you know that we're all just here for the goofball names and the charming British quotes.)
The online suggestion box for ship names isn't closed until April 16, but early Monday morning, the site appeared to have crashed, presumably under the crush of Boaty McBoatface traffic. Regardless, they're working on it, guys.
"I've apologized profusely to the people behind the website," Hand told the BBC. "It was actually nothing to do with me. It was my suggestion but the storm that has been created has legs of its own."
In its release on the ship, expected to set sail in 2019, the Natural Environment Research Council wrote that it was "looking for an inspirational name that exemplifies the work it will do."
"The ship could be named after a local historical figure, movement, or landmark — or a famous polar explorer or scientist," the release stated.
Or, whatever, they could just go with Boaty McBoatface and call it a day.
For a look at some of the research that happens on ships like this, here's a cool little video from NERC, which features some killer footage of ice and whales:
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