As a parent, you know better than anyone how hard it is to come up with a good name. Sure, you may have consulted the internet when you were naming your kid, but you’d never open it up to an online poll. Unfortunately, the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) wasn’t as smart about their new baby — a yellow research submarine named Boaty McBoatface. Because the worldwide web is a frightening place.
Boaty is a new type of autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that will investigate the dark depths of the Orkney Passage, a 2.1-mile-deep region of the Southern Ocean. Mr. (or Ms.) McBoatface can penetrate ice up to 20,000-feet (no, not leagues) deep, while transmitting data back to researchers about how the ocean is responding to global warming. Cool as that might be, it apparently wasn’t enough to get people excited about the mission. Letting them give the robotic vessel a stupid name, however? Now that lead to “unprecedented public engagement.”
Boaty McBoatface, a name originally suggested by former BBC presenter James Hand, won sails down with 124,109 votes. And if you needed any more proof that the internet is a terrible place, it received 4 times more votes than the name “RRS Poppy-Mai,” which was inspired by … a toddler with terminal cancer. NERC was reportedly going to call an audible and name it after Planet Earth host Sir David Attenborough, because that came in fifth place and at that point, why not?
Out of respect for the process, however, they decided to let Boaty McBoatface triumph at the last minute. The submarine equivalent of a dad joke will begin its journey departing from Punta Arenas on March 17. Just don’t be surprised if it also ends up being the name of one of your little sailor’s bath toys.
[H/T] The Guardian