David Attenborough turned 90 on Sunday, and the kind people at the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) marked the occasion by naming their new polar research vessel after him. There's no doubt that Attenborough is a national treasure and an apt namesake for a scientific ship, but there's one problem. The public were asked to name the ship, and David Attenborough was not the name they chose.
The chosen name, as we are sure you are only too aware, was Boaty McBoatFace, drawing in more than 124,100 votes, while Sir David only picked up 11,000.
Science Minister Jo Johnson demanded a more suitable name, while Culture Minister Ed Vaizey supported the name Boaty, in order to follow the "will of the people". Eventually Attenborough won, and even Boaty's creator, James Hand, gave it his blessing
-- James Hand (@JamesHand) May 6, 2016
Others weren't so content. A plethora of think pieces and angry tweets plagued the internet, as people voiced their annoyance that the name chosen by the people was not used. There was such uproar that a Science and Technology Committee inquiry was held today into science communication, exploring the Name Our Ship competition and NERC's broader public engagement strategy.
Appearing in front of MPs, NERC bosses Duncan Wingham and James Wilsdon defended the choice to put out a public poll, despite going against the people's choice in the end.
The group said that the campaign raised awareness of their research, reaching 250 million people, clocking up 23 million votes and 60,000 views on a video about the ship.
They confirmed that while they have no plans for future ships right now, but would be open to letting the public choose future nautical names. They did not confirm whether future votes by the public would be ignored, thus making the entire voting system futile.
Meanwhile, it was noted that despite public outcry for the Government to follow through on promises, the campaign raised awareness, getting mentioned on Ant and Dec, Gogglebox, down the pub and at local car boot sales.
The NERC said that the name would live on, as the ship's submarine will be named Boaty McBoatFace.