The man behind a suggestion to name a £200 million research vessel RSS Boaty McBoatface has apologised profusely to the organisers.

James Hand, a former BBC Radio Jersey presenter, came up with the idea after the National Environment Research Council (NERC) opened up suggestions to name their new ship. Just about every national newspaper has been in touch, he said. 

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.

Some other tongue-in-cheek submissions include It’s Bloody Cold Here, Usain Boat, Ice Ice Baby and Notthetitanic. But Boaty McBoatface is currently leading with more than 27,000 votes. 

The final name will be selected by the NERC, according to competition rules.

Speaking to his former co-presenter on BBC Radio Jersey, he said has been flooded by requests by nearly all national newspapers and broadcasters. “It’s utterly bizzare,” he said, after receiving a message from his friend in Australia, informing him Boaty McBoatface was leading the local news agenda in Perth. 

Explaining the turn of events, he said: “It’s been utterly bizarre…I read the list of entries and there were about 3,000 at the time. Some of them were really really funny. Clifford the Big Red Boat was my favourite. So I thought I’d throw one into the ring to see what happens. It got a few likes and I thought nothing of it.

“It’s only when I got home and someone tweeted me and said Boaty McBoatface is leading by 500 and then by Friday night it was leading by a couple of thousand. Then, by the time the site eventually crashed yesterday, it was leading by about eight thousand. It’s been quite a strange weekend. 

He laughed: “I’ve actually been speaking to the people behind the website. I’ve been apologising profusely. It’s actually nothing to do with me. It was my suggestion but the storm that has been created, it’s got legs of its own. The website has been updated and it’s got a new server apparently.

“It’s all been really good fun but it’s been so surreal. 

Lord West on Boaty McBoatface

“When you submit them, you have to submit a reason and I actually put ‘it’s a brilliant name’, which I stand by. I’ve tweeted the organisers and said I’m terribly sorry – a lot of people have replied to me and said that’s the most British thing ever.”

Lord West, the ex-First Sea Lord, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's a typical thing of the Brits going mad - normally silly reason, rather than this time of the year."

He said the NERC had only expected "marine research fans" to get involved.

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.”

Comments