THE world’s most advanced polar vessel may well have ended up with the world’s most inane name.
What was the Boaty McBoatface poll?
In March 2016, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) made the brave decision to ask the public to provide a name for its new £200million research vessel.
It launched a public poll, allowing anyone to put forward or vote on a proposed name.
Suggestions flooded in, but within days there was an out-and-out favourite – Boaty McBoatface – which went on to amass 124,109 votes after being suggested as a joke.
The vessel is being built on Merseyside in the largest commercial UK shipbuilding project in 30 years.
When will it set off?
After two years in the making, the RRS (Royal Research Ship) Sir David Attenborough launches on the River Mersey today, September 26.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will carry out the naming ceremony alongside Sir Attenborough at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, where it’s been built.
William and Sir David are expected to make a few remarks before Kate, as sponsor, formally names the ship when a bottle of champagne is smashed against the hull.
The vessel, owned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and operated by the BAS, will enable world-leading research to be carried out in Antarctica and the Arctic over the next 25 to 30 years.
Its interior will be fitted over the coming weeks, before it heads to ice trials planned in the northern hemosphere from March 2020.
The boat will enter full operation in October 2020.
What has Sir Attenborough said about it?
Sir Attenborough, 93, said the world’s most advanced polar research vessel was exactly what the world needed.
“We all need this ship,” he said.
“Our world is changing and it’s clear that people around the world – especially the young – are becoming more and more concerned about a climate catastrophe.
“But human beings are resilient and skilful. If we pay attention to the scientific knowledge that those who will sail in this ship will gather, then we will stand a much better chance of finding a way to deal with what lies ahead.”
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Why wasn’t the ship called Boaty McBoatface?
BBC Jersey radio presenter James Hand was the one behind the simple, silly name – but he insisted afterwards it wasn’t all down to him.
Despite the silly name attracting unprecedented public interest in the project, the then Science Minister Jo Johnson decided it just wasn’t appropriate.
He instead opted to name the vessel after national treasure Sir David Attenborough, a decision which was unlikely to ruffle too many feathers.
As a nod to democracy – and a sense of humour – Johnson agreed that the Boaty McBoatface name could be given to a remote-control robotic underwater vehicle which will eventually sit on board the main ship.
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