Out: Boaty McBoatface. In: RRS Sir David Attenborough
It looks as if Britain's £200 million (US$284 million) state-of-the-art polar research ship won't be christened "Boaty McBoatface" after all. According to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the UK Science Minister Jo Johnson confirmed today that the vessel will be named "Royal Research Ship Sir David Attenborough" in recognition of the broadcaster's contributions to natural science and education.
Today's decision comes in the wake of the embarrassing result of a contest where the general public were invited to submit and vote for names for the new research ship, which is scheduled to go into service in 2019. BBC Radio Jersey presenter James Hand's nomination of Boaty McBoatface caught the public imagination and racked up 124,109 votes – easily defeating the runners up, Poppy-Mai with 34,371, Henry Worsley at 15,231, and It's Bloody Cold Here scooping 10,679.
Because the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) reserved the right to make the final decision to select a name that "fits the mission and captures the spirit of scientific endeavor," Boaty McBoatface didn't stand much of a chance. Instead, the government opted for naming the ship after Sir David just days before his 90th birthday to mark six decades of creating world-renowned natural history documentaries for the BBC.
RRS Sir David Attenborough, currently under construction at Cammell Laird shipyards, is a floating polar laboratory that will replace RRS Ernest Shackleton and RRS James Clarke Ross. The new ship will carry 30 crew and 60 scientists along with support staff, and will be used in both the Antarctic and the Arctic. When completed, it will be 129.6 m (425 ft) long, 25 m (82 ft) abeam, have a draught of 7.5 m (24 ft), displace 12,790 tonnes (14,098 tons), and have 4,200 cubic meters (148,000 cubic feet) of cargo space.
"I am truly honored 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," said Sir David in a statement. "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."
For those who were rooting for the cheekier name, Boaty McBoatface will be used as the official moniker for one of the Attenborough's unmanned robotic sub-sea vehicles.