Discarding the results of a public poll that embraced “Boaty McBoatface” as the name for a $300 million research vessel, Britain’s science minister has instead named the ship for famed naturalist Sir David Attenborough.
Boaty McBoatface received more than 124,000 votes in the online poll that was set up by Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council — more than 10 times the 11,000 votes Attenborough’s name received.
As the Two-Way reported last month, U.K. Science Minister Jo Johnson torpedoed the B.M. tag despite its status as an Internet darling, saying that the research ship — the largest and most advanced in British history — needed a more “suitable” name.
In a nod to the thousands who backed Boaty, the British agency says, “Boaty McBoatface will live on as the name of one of the high-tech remotely operated sub-sea vehicles” on the main vessel.
The official title of the ship will now be the Royal Research Ship Sir David Attenborough. When it goes into service in 2019, it will allow scientists to conduct extensive studies in both Antarctica and the Arctic.
Reacting to the naming news, the research ship’s eponym, Attenborough, who is now approaching his 90th birthday, issued a statement:
“I am truly honoured by this naming decision and hope that everyone who suggested a name will feel just as inspired to follow the ship’s progress as it explores our polar regions. I have been privileged to explore the world’s deepest oceans alongside amazing teams of researchers, and with this new polar research ship they will be able to go further and discover more than ever before.”
The “Boaty” campaign was the idea of former BBC radio host James Hand, who has said he is both sorry for and baffled by the intense response to an off-the-cuff idea. He later said that his favorite potential name was actually Clifford the Big Red Boat.