The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has asked the public to help it name a new polar research ship. Due to become operational in 2019, names for the 128m-long, 15,000-tonne ‘super ship’ are being accepted online until 16 April this year.
The new addition will replace the existing polar fleet, the RRS James Clark Ross and the RRS Ernest Shackleton and will work in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Although the fleet will be reducing from two to just one vessel, it is hoped that the newcomer will be efficient and durable enough to mitigate the loss. Indeed, the new ship will boast helipads, cranes, laboratories and a ‘moon pool’ with which to deploy underwater equipment. It will also be able to break ice up to one metre thick while travelling at three knots.
NERC’s chief executive, Duncan Wingham, said ‘The new ship will help put the UK at the cutting edge of polar research, as part of an extensive polar programme with £200m investment from the government. We are launching our campaign to bring our ship to the UK people, asking for their help to find her a name that encapsulates her role at the forefront of UK science. We are excited to hear what the public have to suggest and we really are open to ideas.’
With such a broad workload ahead of it, NERC had hoped to find an inspirational name put forward by an appreciative public. Although the James Clarke Ross and the Ernest Shackleton were named after polar explorers, it had said that the new name need not be after a person. Indeed, the title could be a place or a natural phenomena such as the German Pole Star or the Australian Aurora Australis.
However, Wingham’s initial enthusiasm for public input may well be up for reevaluation following the opening of the online vote. Unfortunately, the internet being what it is, the current public favourite – by a long margin – is... RRS Boaty McBoatface. Other popular names include the RRS Pingu, RRS Notthetitanic, and RRS Usain Boat.
The only prerequisite is that it cannot be a name that has been used before. Entrants may enter as many names as they wish on NERC’s website with a short explanation as to why it would be suitable. The final name will be selected by NERC, which suggests some of the more... out there suggestions may not survive come naming day. Geographical encourages you to head over there and make your voice heard. May we suggest RRS Where in the World? as a suitable alternative?