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'Boaty McBoatface' leads naming poll for British research vessel

By
Ben Hooper
This planned research vessel might one day bear the name Boaty McBoatface, is online voters have their way. Screenshot: NERCscience/YouTube
This planned research vessel might one day bear the name "Boaty McBoatface," is online voters have their way. Screenshot: NERCscience/YouTube

LONDON, March 21 (UPI) -- A British science group asked the public to help name a new polar research ship, and voters overwhelming chose an unconventional moniker, "Boaty McBoatface."

The National Environment Research Council, which is funded by the British government, posted a poll on its website to allow members of the public to suggest and vote on possible names for the $290 million polar research vessel, which is expected to launch in 2019.

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The most popular suggestion, "RRS Boaty McBoatface," had mote than 27,000 votes Monday morning, compared to about 3,000 votes for the more serious second-place name, "RRS Henry Worsley," named for a British explorer who died in January.

The website has been crashing repeatedly due to the high traffic from the poll.

Lord Alan West, former sea lord in charge of Britain's navy, told BBC Radio 4 that organizers had expected voters to be "mainly marine research fans."

"I would probably plump for a rather more famous name," he said. "I would go for an Arctic or Antarctic explorer."

NERC Director of Corporate Affairs Alison Robinson told NBC News the voting process is non-binding and the organization has final say over the boat's name.

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"We are very much enjoying hearing everyone's ideas," Robinson said.

The organization appeared to be taking the tongue-in-cheek suggestion in good humor, even using it as a hashtag in tweets about the new vessel's planned capabilities.

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