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Try Saying It With a Stiff Upper Lip: Boaty McBoatface Will Sail On

A submarine operated by a $300 million polar research vessel will be named Boaty McBoatface.

BAHAMAS - JANUARY 01:  A crane lowers a submersible into the ocean for a deep dive, Caribbean Sea, Bahama Islands  (Photo by Bates Littlehales/National Geographic/Getty Images)
BAHAMAS - JANUARY 01: A crane lowers a submersible into the ocean for a deep dive, Caribbean Sea, Bahama Islands (Photo by Bates Littlehales/National Geographic/Getty Images)

A British naturalist and TV personality has beat out Boaty McBoatface as the new name for a $300 million polar research vessel funded by the United Kingdom. The ship will be named RSS Sir David Attenborough, despite Boaty McBoatface’s landslide win in an online poll.

Attenborough, whose name took fourth place in the poll, has had a 60-year career as a BBC naturalist. He created the Life on Earth series that explained the Earth’s natural history by visiting ecosystems around the world, and has advocated for the preservation of rainforests and slowing the effects of global warming.

Boaty McBoatface, on the other hand, beat out tough competitors like “RRS I Like Big Boats & I Cannot Lie” and “RRS Watch Out for the Iceberg” in an online vote. Its accomplishment will be acknowledged by naming the ship’s remotely operated yellow submarine Boaty McBoatface. That means that scientists aboard the vessel will be saying “Boaty McBoatface” on a daily basis as they conduct their research.

The poll put Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council in the awkward position of having to choose between ignoring the results or giving the vessel a ridiculous name. “Imagine Boaty McBoatface sank and everyone died,” commented one Twitter user. “Imagine the news having to read that out with a straight face.”

The McBoatface controversy has generated a massive amount of interest in the research vessel, with #BoatyMcBoatface trending second Friday morning on British Twitter. Many took to the social network to decry the decision to set aside Boaty McBoatface:

 

 

Attenborough said he hopes everyone who voted in the poll will continue to follow the ship’s progress.

“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” he said.

Photo credit: BATES LITTLEHALES/National Geographic/Getty Images

Megan Alpert is a fellow at Foreign Policy. Her previous bylines have included The Guardian, Guernica Daily, and Earth Island Journal. @megan_alpert

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