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British Science Minister Does Not Want to Name $300 Million Research Vessel ‘Boaty McBoatface’

An online poll to name Britain's $300 million research vessel chose Boaty McBoatface. British officials aren't entirely pleased.

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY Anne KAURANEN
The icebreaker Ahto stops in the middle of an ice field off the coast of Tornio, northern Finland on February 5, 2016, to test how an oil spill would flow under the arctic ice.
As the world's superpowers eye the lucrative Arctic region with growing interest, unprecedented oil spill clean-up tests in icy Finnish conditions reveal just how hazardous and challenging an accident in the Arctic's pristine sea ice could be. / AFP / Sam Kingsley        (Photo credit should read SAM KINGSLEY/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY Anne KAURANEN The icebreaker Ahto stops in the middle of an ice field off the coast of Tornio, northern Finland on February 5, 2016, to test how an oil spill would flow under the arctic ice. As the world's superpowers eye the lucrative Arctic region with growing interest, unprecedented oil spill clean-up tests in icy Finnish conditions reveal just how hazardous and challenging an accident in the Arctic's pristine sea ice could be. / AFP / Sam Kingsley (Photo credit should read SAM KINGSLEY/AFP/Getty Images)

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 hundreds 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 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.

https://twitter.com/JamesHand?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Photo credit: SAM KINGSLEY/AFP/Getty Images

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