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British science minister does not want to name research vessel ‘Boaty McBoatface’

🕐 2 min read

All that British officials wanted to do was get everyday people excited about science by allowing them the chance to go online and vote on the name of a $300 million polar research vessel.

Now they’re faced with what former BBC radio presenter James Hand called a “very British” problem. Hand thought it would be “brilliant” to suggest the name Boaty McBoatface be added to the mix. And surprise, surprise: a lot of Brits agreed.

On Monday, after Boaty McBoatface took home a landslide win with more than 124,000 votes in the weeks-long Natural Environment Research Council poll, Jo Johnson, the British science minister, said the election did not mean a group of ministers overseeing the contest will endorse the name.

Although he didn’t directly state that he would vote against Boaty McBoatface, Johnson told the BBC that many of the suggested names “were imaginative, some were more suitable than others.”

“This boat. . .[is] going to be doing science on some of the most important issues facing humanity,” Johnson said. “Global warming, climate changing, rising sea-levels, these are issues which affect the lives of 100s of millions of people around the world and these are very important themes. So you want a name that fits the gravity and the importance of the subjects that this boat is going to be doing science into.”

Other suggestions included “Ice, Ice Baby” and “It’s Bloody Cold Out Here.” At least those made reference to the Arctic, unlike Boaty McBoatface, which doesn’t do much more than clarify that yes, the multimillion dollar icebreaker is in fact a boat.

When Boaty McBoatface took the lead in the election last month, Hand said that it was “a brilliant name.”

“Actually when you submit them you have to submit a reason, and I actually put ‘it’s a brilliant name,’ which I stand by,” he said.

But on Sunday, Hand conceded that the poll’s organizers had the final say.

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