It’s all over. The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has announced the winner of their massively anticipated online vote to name their $290 million polar research ship. And the winner is... RRS Sir David Attenborough.
As you might have noticed from the huge hype surrounding the public vote, there was a much more popular suggestion, by the name of “Boaty McBoatface.” After the jokey suggestion went viral across Facebook and Twitter, Boaty McBoatface received a massive 124,000 votes, while Attenborough’s name received around 11,000. However, the final decision was announced by Jo Johnson, the U.K.’s Universities and Science Minister.
Loyal supporters of Boaty McBoatface's cause need not be disappointed, though. The spirit of Boaty McBoatface will live on as the name of the ship’s high-tech remotely operated undersea vehicle.
— NERC (@NERCscience) May 6, 2016
Among the many reasons the name was not picked, perhaps the most important was that the ship will operate in dangerous waters. Were the worst to happen, such as it sinking, the name would perhaps not be so amusing if friends and relatives had lost loved ones.
Sir David Attenborough, the televisual legend and natural-science evangelist who turns 90 on Sunday, was said to be “truly honored” by the result. For over six decades, his mind-blowing wildlife documentaries and work within broadcasting has entertained, inspired, and informed millions.
James Hand, the former BBC presenter who suggested the name originally, also seemed pretty happy with the decision. On twitter, he posted this statement:
— James Hand (@JamesHand) May 6, 2016
Furthermore, the NERC and the U.K. government have been thrilled with the publicity the competition has brought, and hope it's fostered interest in their important research.
In a government press release, Jo Johnson MP, said: “The ship has captured the imaginations of millions.
“The public provided some truly inspirational and creative names, and while it was a difficult decision I’m delighted that our state-of-the-art polar research ship will be named after one of the nation’s most cherished broadcasters and natural scientists.
“This vessel will carry the Attenborough name for decades to come, as it fulfils its mission to explore the oceans and put Britain at the forefront of efforts to preserve our precious marine environment.”
The RRS Sir David Attenborough will set sail in 2019, along with state-of-the-art equipment and onboard laboratories to help our understanding of the effect of climate change on the Antarctic Ocean's climate and ecosystems.