Want to name a British polar research ship?

NERC's Name our Ship campaign

Will it be Boaty McBoatface?

The UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) wants help naming its new polar research vessel, which is due to become operational in 2019.

On March 17, NERC launched the Name Our Ship campaign (try the hashtag #NameOurShip on your preferred social media site).

So far over 3,800 names have been suggested by the public, reviewed by NERC, and entered into the contest. As of right now, the top 4 contenders have over 1,000 votes each:

  1. RRS Boaty McBoatface – over 10,000 votes
  2. RRS Henry Worsley – over 2,000 votes
  3. RRS Pillar of Autumn – over 1,000 votes
  4. RRS David Attenborough – over 1,000 votes

In a Mister Splashy Pants-esque turn of events, Boaty McBoatface has a commanding early lead thanks to Reddit, Twitter, etc.

But the campaign doesn’t end until April 16, so anything can happen.

Other contenders that have at least 100 votes each include RRS Pingu (for claymation penguin Pingu), RRS Usain Boat, RRS Ada Lovelace, RRS Ice Ice Baby, and RRS Immacrackdatice.

NERC's Name our Ship campaign

Want to play along? Either go to the entries page and vote on a name that’s already been submitted or submit a name of your own invention.

Update, 3/22: The site has been down for several days now, but here’s a quote from “Boaty McBoatface: What You Get When You Let the Internet Decide” in the New York Times today:

The research council would not comment on whether it would override the Internet’s suggestion, but Alison Robinson, a spokeswoman, said in an email that the group was “delighted by the enthusiasm and creativity” of people vying for names like Boaty McBoatface.

FWIW, the person who suggested Boaty McBoatface, James Hand, has since apologized.

Update, 3/24: RRS Boaty McBoatface is still in 1st with over 74,200 votes. In 2nd place is RRS Henry Worsley with over 7,000. RSS David Attenborough (which is the one I voted for) has crept into 3rd with over 5,500.

Update, 4/4: RRS Boaty McBoatface is still in the lead with over 111,000 votes. Second place is now RRS Poppy-Mai, with over 21,000 votes. Third is RRS Henry Worsley, with over 12,000 votes.

Update, 4/16: Today’s the last day of the campaign, and RRS Boaty McBoatface is still in 1st place with over 124,000 votes. The second-place name, RRS Poppy-Mai, has fewer than 35,000 votes.

Update, 4/18: Looks like Britain’s new polar research vessel will probably not be named RRS Boaty McBoatface after all.

Update, 5/7: The name will be RRS Sir David Attenborough. “While the polar ship itself will not be named Boaty McBoatface, one of its remotely operated sub-sea vehicles will be named Boaty in recognition of the vote.”

Images: Screenshots of NERC’s Name our Ship page

[Latest update: Aug. 2023]

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