NERC Name Our Ship Contest

NERC Name Our Ship Contest

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Updated Apr 19, 2016 at 04:28PM EDT by Brad.

Added Mar 20, 2016 at 05:20PM EDT by Illusion.

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Overview

NERC Name Our Ship Contest was an online contest hosted by the British scientific research agency Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to name its newest polar research vessel in March 2016. Shortly after the launch of the event, the website was promptly raided by pranksters suggesting a variety of goofy names, most notably RRS Boaty McBoatface, which ultimately topped the list with over 120,000 votes at the closure of the poll in April 2016.

Background

On March 17th, 2016, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) launched an online crowdsourced contest to name its newly commissioned 129-meter long polar research vessel--the largest and most advanced British royal research vessel to date--which is scheduled for construction at the Cammell Laird Shipyard in Birkenhead, United Kingdom and embarkment in 2019 for a variety of scientific research missions in the Arctic and Antarctica as part of the British Antarctic Survey.[1]


NAME OF VESSEL NERC OUR OUR NEW POLAR SHIP NEEDS A NAME #NameOurShip

Notable Developments

Upon the launch of the online poll, many visitors began submitting unconventional and goofy suggestions for the name of the ship, most notably RRS Boaty McBoatface, which was submitted on that same day by former BBC presenter James Hand.[9] Within the first 24 hours, RRS Boaty McBoatface began leading the polls with a sizable margin by more than 8,000 votes over any other names.[2][3][4] By the evening of March 20th, RRS Boaty McBoatface had solidified its top position with a margin of approximately 20,000 votes over the second most popular choice RRS Henry Worsley, the British explorer who died in January 2016 during his attempt to become the first person to cross the Antarctic.


RRS BOATY MCBOATFACE BY JAMES HAND 6263 COPY SUBMISSION LINK f SHARE 乡TWEET DESCRIPTION It's an absolutely brilliant name. RRS BOATY MCBOATFACE 169 James Hand RRS HENRY WORSLEY 80 Bernie Jones RRS DAVID ATTENBOROUGH 60 612 Elizabeth Jones RRS PILLAR OF AUTUMN 60 352 Havelock Vetinari

The popularity of RRS Boaty McBoatface further inspired other joke entries such as RRS It's Bloody Cold Here[5] RRS Usain Boat,[6] and RRS Ice Ice Baby,[7] among many others. Meanwhile, NERC revealed that its website has experienced numerous outages due to traffic overload.


ME OUR ME OUR NAME OUR SHIP IS CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING A HIGH VOLUME OP TRAFFIC Our website is currently experiencing an extremely high volume of traffic. Sorry for any inconvenience caused. This team of penguins are doing their best to fix the problem! Please try again later.

James Hand's Apology

On March 21st, James Hand publicly apologized for suggesting the name via Twitter[13], and later that day, in an interview appearance on BBC Radio Jersey[9], during which he was quoted as saying:

"I would say 90% of the entries at that point were really quite funny so I thought, I'll throw one into the ring and just see what happens. […] I've actually been speaking a bit to the people behind the website. I've apologised profusely. […] What I keep saying to people is, this is actually nothing to do with me. I made the suggestion but the storm that's been created, it's got legs of its own. […] I just feel it's a very British thing, which a lot of people have pointed out."

Official Response

In response to the unexpected influx of attention and traffic to the poll, Alison Robinson[10], director of corporate affairs at the NERC, said "we are pleased that people are embracing the idea in a spirit of fun." However, not everyone was so pleased; the Admiral Lord West of the Royal Navy said, "I am rather proud we have silly names going around but I hope we don't select one." In addition, the NERC spokesperson emphasized that there is no guarantee the ship will be named after the winning entry from the poll, with the final decision to be made by the chief executive of the organization.

Poll Results

By the time of the poll's closure on the evening of April 16th, RRS Boaty McBoatface had emerged as the runaway winner with 125,109 votes, more than three times its closest contender RRS Poppy-Mai, which was named after a 16-month-old girl with incurable cancer.


RRS BOATY MCBOATFACE RRS USAIN BOAT JAMES HAND LYN SUMMERS 6 RRS POPPY-MAI RRS BOATIMUS PRIME NICOLA MAHER DAVID HEURAL 2 RRS HENRY WORSLEY RRS KATHARINE GILES BERNIE JONES A FRIEND 8 RRS DAVID ATTENBOROUGH RRS CATALINA DE ARAGON ELIZABETH JONES JUAN BELDA 4 9 RRS ITS BLOODY COLD HERE RRS I LIKE BIG BOATS&l CANNOT LIE STUART TAYLOR ROBIN STYLES 10

On April 18th, during an interview with BBC Radio Five Live[12], British Science Minister Jo Johnson hinted that NERC may adopt a more "suitable" name for the ship in lieu of the public's choice, despite the overwhelming majority of votes that RSS Boaty McBoatface had received.

“There is a process now for us to review all of the public’s choices. Many of them were imaginative, some were more suitable than others. […] I think we were clear when launching the competition that we were looking for a name that would be in keeping with the mission.

This boat…[is] going to be doing science on some of the most important issues facing humanity. 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."

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