UK polar ship named after BBC naturalist but Boaty McBoatface lives on

Fri May 6, 2016 6:29am EDT
 
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LONDON (Reuters) - A new 200 million pound ($290 million) polar research ship is to be named after veteran BBC naturalist David Attenborough but the government promised on Friday that "Boaty McBoatface", the name which topped a public poll, would not be ignored.

The naming of the Royal Research Ship (RRS) attracted huge interest after the Natural Environment Research Council encouraged Britons to come up with suggestions, leading to a stream of light-hearted ideas such as RRS Usain Boat, RRS I Like Big Boats&I Cannot Lie and RRS Watch Out For The Iceberg.

Backed by a social media campaign, Boaty McBoatface easily topped an online poll with more than 124,000 votes although even the instigator of the Boaty name later apologized for his suggestion.

However, the government decided that the state-of-the-art ship which is due to set sail in 2019 would be named after Sir David Attenborough, 89, famed for his BBC TV natural history programs which span six decades and whose name had attracted 11,000 votes.

But the ship's remotely operated undersea vehicle, which will collect samples from the deep waters of the Arctic and Antarctic, will be called Boaty McBoatface.

"The ship has captured the imaginations of millions, which is why we're ensuring that the Boaty name lives on through the sub-sea vehicle that will support the research crew, and the polar science education program that will bring their work to life," said Science Minister Jo Johnson.

Attenborough, who will celebrate his 90th birthday on Sunday, said he was honored.

"I ... hope that everyone who suggested a name will feel just as inspired to follow the ship's progress as it explores our polar regions," he said.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)

 
Naturalist David Attenborough arrives for a memorial service for his brother Richard Attenborough at Westminster Abbey in London March 17, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett