Boaty McBoatface rejected as Nerc faces questions from MPs

Research council chiefs to be grilled by select committee after poll to name polar research vessel is overruled

May 6, 2016
Boaty McBoatface
Source: NERC
A submarine of the kind that will be called "Boaty"

The government has stopped short of naming a new Arctic research ship “Boaty McBoatface” and has instead bestowed the name “Boaty” on a remotely operated submarine.

Despite Boaty McBoatface comfortably topping a public poll to find a name for the new vessel, it will instead be called the RRS Sir David Attenborough, a suggestion that came fourth in the vote organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (Nerc).

A statement by Nerc said Sir David’s name had been selected because it “captures the ship’s scientific mission and celebrates the broadcaster’s contribution to natural science”.

Some social media users were less than impressed with the decision, however, calling it an affront to democracy (with varying degrees of seriousness):

Another user, Matt Hunter, suggested getting Sir David “blind drunk” and changing his name to Boaty McBoatface in order to achieve “justice”.

Other Twitter users said that the vessel to be named Boaty needed a different name as it was not really a boat.

Next week Nerc’s chief executive Duncan Wingham and head of communications Julia Maddock will be questioned about the poll by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.

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Reader's comments (1)

A failure of democracy in the narrow sense, perhaps. But, what a success for engaging the public with science! Before this, how many of the general public would have been aware, except in the vaguest sense, about the NERC research ships? Now, thanks to Sir Boaty McAttenboroughface, huge numbers of people have heard about this important part of scientific research.

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