Britain’s new polar research ship is to be named RRS Sir David Attenborough, despite “Boaty McBoatface” topping a public online vote.
The decision to name the $290 million state-of-the-art vessel after the iconic British naturalist comes days before his 90th birthday, and is in recognition of his legacy in British broadcasting.
The name Boaty McBoatface will live on in the form of the ship’s remotely operated submarine, which will be dispatched from RRS Sir David Attenborough to allow the research crew to collect data and samples from the Arctic and Antarctic.
The RRS Sir David Attenborough is being built on Merseyside – the biggest commercial shipbuilding contract in Britain – and is due to set sail in 2019. It will provide the UK with the most advanced floating research fleet in the world, looking at the world’s oceans and issues of climate change.
A public call for names by the UK’s natural environment research council attracted more than 7,000 suggestions. Boaty McBoatface received more than 124,000 votes, the second place contender, Poppy-Mai – for a toddler with incurable cancer – received more than 34,000 votes, and Attenborough’s name received more than 11,000.
Naturally, it did not take longer for Britain’s sense of humor to spring into action with a sarcastic column written by The Guardian’s Stuart Heritage.
“Boaty McBoatface: tyrants have crushed the people’s will,” shouts the headline to the essay, which begins with, “Boaty McBoatface was too beautiful to live. He was a rare and precious flower, simply not cut out for these ugly times. We created Boaty McBoatface. We created him after our own image, in a rush of optimism, deluding ourselves that he was ever worth a damn. Boaty McBoatface was a perfect idea in an imperfect world. He was all that we were not. He was strong. He was resolute. Truly, he was Boaty McBoatface.”