When scientists in the U.K. asked the public to name their new $290 million polar research ship, they expected the name of an explorer such as Sir Ernest Shackleton or a naturalist such as David Attenborough to eventually be emblazoned across the vessel’s bow.
However, they didn’t factor in the Brits’ oddball sense of humor.
This morning, the website had 73,808 votes for “RRS Boaty McBoatface.”
The poll was launched by the National Environment Research Council, the government-funded body building the ship in the Cammell Laird shipyard, near Liverpool.
Expected to set sail in 2019, the 420-foot vessel will “provide the U.K. with the most advanced floating research fleet in the world,” the council said.
The good news for the council’s decision to crowd-search a name for its latest polar research vessel is unprecedented public engagement in a sometimes niche area of scientific study.
The bad news, according to The Guardian, is that the group could sail due south in a $287 million vessel that “sounds like it was christened by a 5-year-old who has drunk three cartons of Capri-Sun.” The government-funded ship will carry out a variety of research trips to Antarctica and the Arctic.
The council, which was wise enough to ask that people “suggest” names, giving it future wriggle room, asked that the ideas be inspirational. Some undoubtedly were, as its website, which kept crashing on Sunday under the weight of traffic, showed dozens of serious suggestions connected to inspiring figures such as Attenborough or names such as Polar Dream.
But the bulk of entries were distinctly less sober. Aside from the leading contender, ideas included Its Bloody Cold Here, What Iceberg, Captain Haddock, Big Shipinnit, Science!!! and Big Metal Floaty Thingy-thing.
Lord West, ex-First Sea Lord, said he was proud that “silly names” were suggested, but he hopes that none will be chosen.
“I think I would probably go for an Arctic or Antarctic explorer — that would be appropriate — bearing in mind this is a key bit of research where we are probably leading the world, and we should all be very proud of it,” he told the BBC. “I’m rather proud that we have silly names going around, but I hope we don’t select one.”