When the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) opened up suggestions to name their new ship, little could they have predicted what the frontrunner would be.
Steaming ahead of its rivals, RRS Boaty McBoatface is outstripping the likes of Endeavour, Henry Worsley, David Attenborough, Falcon and many more offerings.
Some other tongue-in-cheek submissions include It’s bloody cold here, Usain Bolt, Ice Ice Baby and Notthetitanic.
The £200 million polar research vessel, which will be operational in 2019, is set to sail the waters of Antarctica and the Arctic carrying a team of 90 scientists and support staff.
In a statement NERC said: “Tonne-for-tonne, the ship - together with NERC's existing two blue water research ships - will provide the UK with the most advanced floating research fleet in the world and will help put the UK at the forefront of ocean research for years to come.”
NERC was looking for a name to reflect the ship's prowess in the oceans, symbolising the pioneering work they will undertake.
When thinking of submissions, they advised: “We're looking for an inspirational name that exemplifies the work it will do.
“The ship could be named after a local historical figure, movement, or landmark - or a famous polar explorer or scientist.
Arctic Convoys 1941-45: 'The worst journey in the world'
Arctic Convoys 1941-45: 'The worst journey in the world'
A view of the funnel and bridge area of the destroyer HMS Onslow, showing damage sustained at the Battle of the Barents Sea. A more fortunate ship than the Achates, Onslow engaged the Admiral Hipper directly and in doing so lost 17 of her crew
Officers of the escort carrier HMS Pursuer whilst in Arctic waters. All three are wearing duffel coats as a primary protection against the cold, while the man on the right also has a pair of fur-lined mittens and is wearing heavy woollen socks over his shoes. Such was the thickness of these socks that it was impossible to wear them inside anything other than boots which were two sizes larger than the wearer's feet. The heavier degree of protection from the elements suggests the officer on the right is on his watch on the flight deck. The other two may only have emerged briefly to confer with him and thus are only wearing their coats over their uniforms. Unsurprisingly, dressing for Arctic conditions involved some time and a lot of layers of clothing
A US-supplied Grumman Martlet fighter taking off from the US-supplied escort carrier HMS Pursuer. This photograph was taken in April 1944 when the ship provided cover for Operation Tungsten, the massed carrier strike on the German battleship Tirpitz at her Norwegian base at Altenfjord. Although they did not appear in significant numbers until late 1943, carriers similar to Pursuer were a welcome addition to the escort forces protecting the Arctic convoys. Their presence permitted a greater degree of protection to be offered against both air and submarine attack, and their inherent ability to refuel and rearm their aircraft represented a great improvement over the CAM ships they replaced. British efforts to produce such ships had commenced as early as 1940, but limitations in shipyard capacity had caused a shortage which was not made good until the US versions appeared under Lend-Lease
A wounded man being transferred to a lighter to be taken to hospital ashore. While most ships possessed medical facilities of some form, only the largest had the capability to treat serious combat injuries. In the early years (1941 to 1943), the best that could be done in many cases was to stabilise the injuries and try to keep the patients alive until the ship made port. This particular individual, a German sailor from the sunken battlecruiser KM Scharnhorst, was doubly fortunate. Of the Scharnhorst’s crew of over 1,700 only 36 were rescued from the freezing water by British ships. On arrival in Kola they were not turned over to the Russians but kept aboard HMS Duke of York, a decision which may have saved their lives
'Whisky' the cat, pet and mascot of HMS Duke of York. Cats were popular pets aboard both warships and merchant vessels. They required little looking after and were beneficial to morale, providing welcome and diverting entertainment to the men whose ships they lived aboard. More practically they were also useful in helping to deal with rodents, an inescapable part of life aboard ship. 'Whisky' was aboard the Duke of York when that ship and her consorts sank the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst in defence of convoy JW55B in December 1943. With notable feline contempt for the activities of humans, she is reputed to have slept throughout the battle
Torpedo men of the light cruiser HMS Jamaica. Their hoods and gauntlets were designed to offer some degree of protection in combat conditions, particularly from flash burns. The steel helmets offered a limited defence against solid objects such as flying shrapnel, but were not bullet-proof. In addition to these, they are also wearing wet weather gear appropriate to the Arctic conditions and the exposed location of the torpedo mounts. On cruisers like the Jamaica, these weapons were placed on the upper deck. Deck-mounted torpedo tubes were easier to train on a target than the hull-mounted variety, but their crews were subject to the outside weather conditions and more vulnerable to enemy fire
British and Soviet naval officers enjoying a concert aboard HMS Duke of York whilst in Soviet waters, late 1943. Despite the evident sense of camaraderie conveyed by this picture, relations between the seamen of the two allied nations were not always so cordial. A genuine sense of comradeship born of shared difficulties and dangers could often be marred by ideologically-centred suspicion and distrust, and on occasion by simple lack of mutual understanding. British visitors to military hospitals in Murmansk were often appalled at the squalid conditions which wounded British seamen had to endure. The Russians for their part would resent such an attitude from outsiders when their own people could expect no better. Despite such issues, the working partnership between the two allies never broke down
The forward superstructure of a King George V class battleship in Arctic waters. The person to the left is manning a searchlight. In daylight conditions these were employed for visual signalling. To the right of him another crewman is clearing ice from the deck, while above them both a third figure can be seen scanning the horizon with his binoculars. Such conditions were all-too-familiar to naval and merchant seamen on the Arctic convoys, and represented a particularly serious problem for both personnel and equipment. Clearing ice from decks and off vital equipment such as weapon mountings became a matter of near-constant routine, for if left unchecked even the largest shipboard mechanisms such as gun turrets could jam and fail. If ice built up in sufficient quantities on the upper deck and superstructure, it could even endanger the ship by adversely affecting its stability
The bow of HMS King George V, showing damage following her collision with HMS Punjabi on the 1st of May 1942. The ships were covering convoy PQ15 en route to Russia when they encountered very dense fog. Punjabi's lookouts reported a mine in the ship's path, which she promptly turned to avoid. Unfortunately, this manoeuvre carried her across the bows of the oncoming King George V. With no time to take evasive action herself, the battleship hit the destroyer, cutting the smaller ship in half. Incredibly, only 49 out of the destroyer's crew of about 250 were lost in this incident. This event clearly demonstrates the hazards of attempting to manoeuvre groups of ships in conditions of poor visibility, and it is a tribute to the seamanship of the naval and merchant crews that this was the only serious collision which resulted in a vessel being lost in this theatre
The catapult-armed merchant (CAM) ship Empire Tide circa 1942. Mounted on the ship's forecastle is an aircraft launching catapult, with its 'Hurricat' fighter in position ready to be launched. Conceived as a temporary solution to the lack of sufficient air cover for convoys, CAM fighters required a great deal of courage on the part of the RAF and Fleet Air Arm pilots who manned them. When aboard their parent vessel as passengers they naturally shared the same hazards of surface raider and submarine attack, but the most dangerous element of their task remained dealing with airborne threats. There was no means of recovering a Hurricat after it was launched. Once the attackers had been driven off, or when his fuel began to run low, a pilot would have to ditch his aircraft in the sea as near the convoy as possible and hope for rescue
The destroyer USS Wainwright DD419 refuelling from the cruiser HMS Norfolk. The Wainwright's involvement with the Arctic theatre was limited to the spring and summer of 1942. During that period she made a major contribution to the defence of convoy PQ17, driving off a number of air attacks by German torpedo bombers. The Norfolk was a more familiar sight in the Arctic. With other cruisers she provided distant cover for a number of convoys, and was also present at the battle of the North Cape in December 1943. In this image, the crews are making the most of calm weather conditions to conduct one of the more difficult and hazardous operations of the war. Ship-to-ship refuelling was complex at the best of times, and required superb seamanship to execute safely. It also entailed both ships steaming at low speed, making them very vulnerable to attack
Crewmen hoisting the whaler (27ft boat) back aboard HMS Wells. A former US destroyer of First World War design, she was one of fifty such ships transferred to Britain in 1940 as part of the 'Destroyers for Bases' deal. As received, these elderly ships were unsuitable for escort work, and required significant modification to equip them for this role. HMS Wells formed part of a force covering convoy PQ12 in March 1942. This photograph, taken from the after searchlight position and looking aft, clearly shows the cramped working conditions aboard these small ships
Merchant seamen receiving instruction in the art of anti-aircraft gunnery through the services of a mobile DEMS (Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships) course. While DEMS gunners often comprised naval personnel, short courses were also offered to merchant seamen on a voluntary basis. The purpose of mobile schools such as this converted bus was to provide an alternative to the regular training establishments that would prove less disruptive to working routines. These vehicles would tour ports in their area, stopping for the three-day course duration. In this image, the seamen are being trained to track and lead an approaching enemy aircraft through the gun sight of a close range anti-aircraft weapon
Survivors from the destroyer HMS Achates, photographed following their rescue. On the 31st of December 1942, while Achates and other ships were escorting convoy JW51B they were intercepted by a powerful German surface force comprising the pocket battleship KM Lutzow, the heavy cruiser KM Admiral Hipper and half a dozen destroyers. Despite having no ships larger than destroyers with which to protect the convoy, the escorts mounted a sufficiently aggressive defence that ensured that none of the merchant ships were lost. In what came to be remembered as the Battle of the Barents Sea, Achates sustained severe damage from the Admiral Hipper while trying to generate a smoke screen to shield the merchant ships from view. Unlike the Atlantic theatre where their operational options were more limited, German surface raiders posed a serious threat to the Arctic convoy routes
'Order of the Blue Nose' certificate, awarded to sailors to mark their first crossing of the Arctic Circle. Such certificates were unofficial and the design was unique to individual ships. This particular template was made to be reproduced and issued as appropriate to crewmen aboard the battleship HMS Anson, whose complement of about fourteen hundred men justified a degree of mass production. This ship provided distant cover for a number of Arctic Convoys, and escorted aircraft carriers during the air strikes against the German naval anchorage at Altenfjord in Norway in 1944
A view from the bridge of the British light cruiser HMS Sheffield. This photograph was taken while she was escorting convoy JW53 in late February 1943. This convoy encountered extremely severe weather on the passage to Russia, probably the worst ever experienced by any of the Arctic convoys. Sheffield and seven other vessels were forced to return to Britain for repairs after receiving storm damage. The size and power of the waves can be gauged by the fact that some of the armour plating from one of Sheffield’s forward turrets was torn away by the force of the water. The cruiser also suffered superficial damage to her upper works, and a lifeboat was smashed. Over the course of the War, 40 of the ships bound for Russian ports were forced to turn back due to damage inflicted by ice and heavy weather, and a further one sank in a gale
An oil tanker in convoy with a cargo vessel beyond it. This image clearly illustrates the conditions encountered during winter on the Arctic convoy route. The short days, early darkness and foggy conditions provided some degree of safety from detection and attack by German forces. This allowed winter convoys to risk the shorter journey closer to German bases on the Norwegian coast, a voyage which could be completed in nine or ten days. Unfortunately, this same weather posed a very serious danger to darkened ships trying to maintain formation without showing lights. It was not unknown for convoys to lose some cohesion in conditions of low-visibility, and shepherding their charges back into the group was an important responsibility for the escort ships
A cargo vessel passing through waters thinly coated with sea ice. Two other merchantmen are in column behind, with a destroyer keeping watch to the left of the group. The experience of the summer convoys made for marked contrast to the winter convoys. The almost continuous daylight reduced the navigational difficulties involved in keeping ships in formation, but also rendered them very vulnerable to detection and attack. In these conditions convoy PQ17 met its tragic fate in July 1942. The only way of mitigating this problem was to route the summer convoys as far away from the Norwegian coastline as possible. This involved sailing from the western coast of Iceland and following a track north of the Jan Mayen and Bear Islands, a journey which averaged fifteen days. The longer route did not guarantee immunity from attack, and on occasion introduced yet another hazard in the form of ice floes
A V/W class destroyer dropping a depth charge. This vessel appears to be equipped with only a six charge capacity dropping rack with a very limited number of reloads, suggesting an early-War photograph. At this stage in the War, such attacks were more effective at forcing an enemy contact to remain submerged and thus unable to attack the convoy. A disadvantage of stern-dropped charges was that this method of attack required a ship to pass over its target and lose ASDIC [sonar] contact in the process. Sinkings of German submarines by this method remained uncommon until the introduction of better-equipped escort vessels improved hunting tactics. By the end of 1943 more advanced weapons such as the hedgehog anti-submarine mortar and side-mounted depth charge 'throwers' were increasing the effectiveness of escort ships
“We would like the name to be inspirational and about environmental and polar science, to help us tell everyone about the amazing work the ship does.”
So naturally Boaty McBoatyface, suggested by communications manager James Hand – who later tweeted an apology for his input – is the most popular choice.
The competition to name the 128 metre long royal research ship was launched a month ago, with the deadline for voting on April 16.
Due to overwhelming interest the website has periodically crashed due to unusually high volumes of traffic, presumably from fans of Boaty McBoatface.
A twitter account has even been set up under the handle, encouraging people to get on board with the name.
But despite its fame – allegedly picking up more than 15,000 votes - there is no guarantee the name will grace the side of the ship.
Anchored in the terms and conditions, the website states ‘the final name will be selected by NERC.’
It is almost as if someone thought ahead of what could happen when you have an online public vote.Reuse content