Appearing to drown all hope that the U.K.'s new $300 million research vessel will be named "Boaty McBoatface," Science Minister Jo Johnson says the ship needs a more "suitable" name.
Although Boaty McBoatface decisively won a public poll that Britain's Natural Environment Research Council launched last month to whip up enthusiasm about science, Johnson told BBC Radio 5 Live on Monday that "there is a process now for us to review all of the public's choices. Many of them were imaginative; some were more suitable than others."
According to The Guardian, Boaty McBoatface "received 124,109 votes, four times more than RRS Poppy-Mai — named after a 16-month-old girl with incurable cancer — which came in second place."
But Johnson was firm, saying, "I think we were clear when launching the competition that we were looking for a name that would be in keeping with the mission."
As the Two-Way reported at the time, the man who floated the name Boaty McBoatface, former BBC radio host James Hand, has "apologized profusely."
" 'I've actually been speaking to the people behind the website,' he told BBC Radio. 'It's actually nothing to do with me. It was my suggestion but the storm that has been created, it's got legs of its own.'
"Hand says the response to his suggestion has been 'utterly bizarre.'
" 'I read the list of entries and there were about 3,000 at the time. Some of them were really, really funny. Clifford the Big Red Boat was my favourite. So I thought I'd throw one into the ring to see what happens. It got a few likes and I thought nothing of it,' he said, according to The Independent.
" 'It's only when I got home and someone tweeted me and said Boaty McBoatface is leading by 500, and then by Friday night it was leading by a couple of thousand. Then, by the time the site eventually crashed yesterday, it was leading by about eight thousand,' Hand said. 'It's been quite a strange weekend.' "
The Natural Environment Research Council has said a final decision on the name "will be announced in due course."