Why They Should Name the Ship Boaty McBoatface

boaty_wide-1aaa376fdd015039a077cecfe2096e8839599d7e-s900-c85In 2019 the United Kingdom’s new state-of-the-art polar research vessel is slated to take to the seas. The Natural Environment Research Council, the UK’s leading public funder of environmental science who is funding this beautiful new ship, is allowing the public to name the new ship.  And unless you have been living under a rock you are probably aware that the most popular name is

I actually think they should name the boat Boaty McBoatface.

In the same way that the Mars Curiosity Rover twitter account fully embraces popular culture and the public…here comes the hot stepper word ’em up…so should NERC.  NERC would get a lot of public support, interest, and backing with Boaty McBoatface.  Simply put, Boaty McBoatface is full of science communication win.  A cliche name like the Polar Star or a name after yet another dead white guy will never capture the public interest or imagination.  The ship will be forgotten soon.  What won’t be forgotten is Boaty McBoatface and with daily updates from [email protected] twitter account this is the scicomm gift that keeps giving.  How many kids know the name of even a single research vessel?  Think that will change with Boaty McBoatface? You bet your icebreaker it will.  Some are going to say that science is serious business and this is no time for the antics of ship named Boaty McBoatface.  I couldn’t disagree more.  Boaty McBoatface captures the spirit of research at sea.  Boaty McBoatface captures the fun of going out to sea to explore the ocean.  Science could use a little more fun than it currently possesses.  As someone who takes science very seriously and has spent time at sea, I for one would love to tell someone I’m out on Boaty McBoatface.  Apparently, all my deep-sea scientist friends on Twitter and Facebook agree.  The scientific community, at least the ones online, appear to support Boaty McBoatface.

honor-frost-sqBut if we need to give it a serious name, I am in overwhelming support of Honor Frost.  I borrow from Victoria Herridge who originally put this bug in my ear.  In case you do not know, Honor Frost (28 October 1917 – 12 September 2010) was a pioneer in the field of underwater archaeology, who led many mediterranean archaeological investigations, especially in the Lebanon, and was noted for her typology of stone anchors and skills in archaeological illustration.  So the reasons are

  1. About damn time we name a prominent research vessel after a women scientist.
  2. She pioneered a whole new field (underwater archaeology).
  3. Knew a lot about boats, and especially anchors.
  4. Her name sounds both noble (Honor) and icey (Frost). Good for Southern Ocean and Arctic Research.
  5. Clearly a super hero. She was an orphan brought up by a Mr Evill. No seriously, she was orphaned at an early age and became the ward of Wilfred Evill, a London solicitor and art collector.

Seriously, go and vote for Honor Frost https://nameourship.nerc.ac.uk?id=1y97J0Ay.

Dr. M (1748 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (http://www.scienceofthesouth.com/), connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.


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7 comments on “Why They Should Name the Ship Boaty McBoatface
  1. As an alternative, consider RRS MOIRA DUNBAR.

    Also, consider that a vote for HILLARY is a vote for the future.

    Sir Edmund Hillary was the only explorer who both climbed Mt. Everest and made expeditions to both poles. He was in charge of the ship in Ross Sea that helped the scientists on a key expedition — the first to visit the South Pole in 50 years.

    As a candidate, HILLARY would be right in the middle of the eye of the storm.

    In the US, at least, Republicans will be able to tell Democratic family members, “Sure, I held my nose and voted for Hillary. Why not?”

    (Personally, I favor the name RRS MOIRA DUNBAR.
    I am not in the field and so did not know Honor Frost but that too seems a fine suggestion — I am glad to be learning on the subject. RRS MOIRA DUNBAR, though, also rolls off the tongue. She was a polar explorer who, I believe (based on the little I know) faced early discrimination.

    You can’t always vote for your personal favorite. Please, people, reconsider your support for BOATY MCBOATFACE. It is too important a decision.

  2. Boaty McBoat face or nothing. If they are going to ask the public to vote, and the public votes, that should honour that agreement. Otherwise, its an unethical click bait, promising to do something and then renegging.

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