The former First Sea Lord has said he is "rather proud" of the “silly names” being floated around by the British public to name a £200 million research ship – but hopes none of them are selected.

Lord West’s comments came after the National Environment Research Council (NERC) opened up suggestions to name their new vessel, which is set to sail the waters of Antarctica and Arctic carrying a team of 90 scientists. 

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Today's programme the former First Sea Lord said the NERC had expected only “marine research fans” to get involved. But, he added, “as quick as a flash” names such Boaty McBoatface, Usain Boat, Pingu and Boatamus Prime appeared, outshining the competition. 

Lord West added: "It's a typical thing of the Brits going mad - normally silly reason, rather than this time of the year."

"I think I would probably go for an Arctic or Antarctic explorer - that would be appropriate - bearing in mind this is a key bit of research where we are probably leading the world, and we should all be very proud of it.

"I'm rather proud that we have silly names going around, but I hope we don't select one."

The competition to name the 128 metre long royal research ship was launched a month ago, with the deadline for voting on April 16. 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.”

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