“Boaty McBoatface” finally sets sail

Courtney Huck discusses the launch of the RRS Sir David Attenborough, otherwise known as “Boaty McBoatface"

Courtney Huck
11th October 2019
Image: Flickr - Ron Mader
Last week the research ship, RRS Sir David Attenborough (or more commonly known as “Boaty McBoatface”) launched for its polar expedition from the River Mersey.

The £200 million ship will spend the next 25-30 years gathering information about the changes taking place in the polar region of the Arctic and Antarctica. To raise public interest in the expedition, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) opened a public poll in 2016 for the naming of the ship. To the council’s surprise, the name “Boaty McBoatface” was the most popular choice. From the beginning, the council stated they would have the final say in the naming of the ship. They decided that Boaty McBoatface was not a “serious enough” name for the vessel. Jo Johnson, the science minister at the time, then decided to name the ship after Sir David Attenborough instead.

Attenborough is an English broadcaster with a large background in natural history. Interested in natural history at an early age, he has written and narrated a wide variety of television programs on the subject, including The Blue Planet (2001) and Are We Changing Planet Earth? (2006).

In his speech at the launch of the ship, Attenborough said, “great problems require great research and facts in order to solve them. That’s what this astonishing ship will be here to do: to find out the facts.”

He also stated that, “It is the greatest possible honour that this marvelous ship shall carry my name. And I wish good luck, good fortune to everyone who will sail and work with her.”  Over the course of its life, the research vessel will allow scientists researching oceans, marine life, and climate systems to have access to state-of-the-art facilities.

For those who are disappointed that the original name did not go through, no worries. The ship’s mini-sub was gifted the name “Boaty McBoatface” instead.

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