Also in the running: "It's bloody cold here," "Usain Bolt," "Ice Ice Baby" and "Notthetitanic"

By Alex Heigl
March 21, 2016 11:00 AM
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It does have a nice ring to it.

The U.K.’s Natural Environment Research Council has a new polar research vessel. It costs about $287 million and is expected to be operational in 2019, at which point it will jet off to the waters of Antarctica and the Arctic, staffed by a crew of 90.

That’s because NERC decided to make the nearly-always-complicated decision to open the process of naming the new ship up to the public, via the Internet. And currently, “Boaty McBoatface” is leading the way. (Also in the running: “It’s bloody cold here,” “Usain Bolt,” “Ice Ice Baby” and “Notthetitanic.”)

In the initial call to action, NERC wrote, “We’re 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.” Communications manager James Hand suggested Boaty McBoatface, the Internet took a shine to it and the rest is history. (Hand later tweeted an apology for suggesting the name.)

NERC’s website has been crashing sporadically since the contest launched a month ago due to the sheer volume of people voting. The contest closes on April 16, though it’s not likely NERC will bow to public pressure – the fine print on their web site notes that “the final name will be selected by NERC.”

Bon voyage, Boaty. We hardly knew ye.