Boaty McBoatface

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Boaty McBoatface
United KingdomUnited Kingdom
Name: Boaty McBoatface[1]

National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Southampton, England, UK;[1][2]

part of the UK National Marine Equipment Pool (NMEP)[3]
Operator: British Antarctic Survey (BAS)[2]
Launched: 2017
Commissioned: 2016[2]
Maiden voyage: 3 April 2017; 3 years ago (2017-04-03)
In service: 2018; 3 years ago (2018)[2]
Status: Active; focal point of the Polar Explorer Programme of the UK Government[4]
Notes: Carried onboard the polar scientific research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough[4]
General characteristics
Class and type: Autosub Long Range (ALR)[1][5]
Type: Long-range autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV)[6]
Displacement: 700 kilograms (1,543 pounds)[1]
Length: 3.62 metres (11 feet 10.5 inches)[1]
Installed power: Lithium battery power[5]
Propulsion: Electric motor-powered propeller
Speed: 0.5 to 1.0 metre per second (1.6 to 3.3 feet per second)[1]
Range: at least 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles)[2]
Endurance: "several months"[1][7]
Test depth: 6,000 metres (19,690 feet)[1][2][6][7]
Complement: 0 – totally autonomous, pre-programmed before each mission launch
Sensors and
processing systems:
Sonar, temperature, salinity, density, audio[2]

Boaty McBoatface[2][6] is the British lead boat in a fleet of three robotic Autosub Long Range (ALR) class[1][5] of lithium battery-powered autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). She is used for scientific research, and is carried onboard the polar scientific research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough.[4][8] 'Boaty', as she is affectionately known,[1][7] will be the focal point of the Polar Explorer Programme of the UK Government.[4][7]

Boaty McBoatface, and her two fleet-mates, part of the UK National Marine Equipment Pool (NMEP),[1][3][7] are owned by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Southampton,[1][2] part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC); and operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), who are headquartered in Cambridge, England,[2][9] and are also part of NERC. Because of its complexity and its extended range, NERC classifies her as an 'autosub long range (ALR) autonomous underwater vehicle'.[4][10] With her onboard sensors, Boaty will be mapping the movement of deep waters which play a vital role in regulating the Earth's climate.[5]


The name Boaty McBoatface was originally proposed in a March 2016 #NameOurShip online poll[7] to name the £200 million polar scientific research ship for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), being constructed in the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead,[2] that would eventually be named RRS Sir David Attenborough,[8][11][12] after the eminent zoologist and highly popular English broadcaster Sir David Attenborough (who came fourth in the poll).[13] Former BBC Radio Jersey presenter James Hand jokingly suggested 'Boaty McBoatface', a name the public liked, and that quickly became the most popular choice.[6] The name has been described as a homage to Hooty McOwlface, an owl named through an 'Adopt-a-Bird' programme in 2012 that became popular on the internet. [14]

Although Boaty McBoatface was the most popular suggestion in the #NameOurShip poll,[11] the suggestion to use the name for the mother ship was not followed;[15] the Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson, announced that the ship would be named Sir David Attenborough, and the name Boaty McBoatface would be used for one of the submersibles aboard instead.[16] The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) defended its decision to seek names via an online poll.[13] Describing it as an "eloquent compromise,” Professor Duncan Wingham told the Commons Science and Technology Committee, “The controversy over the naming of a new polar research vessel was an 'astoundingly good outcome for public interest in science’ ", and "the row had 'put a smile' on people's faces" after attracting huge public interest.[13]

The results of the poll inspired similar results in other naming polls.[17][18][19][20][21][22]

Observers of contemporary culture coined the term 'McBoatfacing', as "making the critical mistake of letting the internet decide things". In one such observation, Jennifer Finney Boylan of the New York Times wrote that to be 'McBoatfaced' is to allow people to "deliberately make their choices not in order to foster the greatest societal good, but, instead, to mess with you".[23]


Boaty McBoatface autonomous yellow submarine underwent advanced sea trials in 2016.[2]


Her maiden voyage proper started on 3 April 2017; 3 years ago (2017-04-03), with the Dynamics of the Orkney Passage Outflow (DynOPO)[7][24] expedition onboard research ship RRS James Clark Ross of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), to research how Antarctic Bottom Water leaves the Weddell Sea and enters the Southern Ocean through a 3.5 kilometres (11,000 feet) deep region known as the Orkney Passage,[6] south of Chile.[5][25][26][27] During this DynOPO expedition, which was part of a primary project with the University of Southampton, the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), along with additional support from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Princeton University, she traveled 112 miles (180 kilometres) at depths of up to 4,000 metres (13,000 feet), and collected data on the water's temperature, salinity, and turbulence. Combined with measurements collected by RRS James Clark Ross, the data suggest that as winds over the Southern Ocean have strengthened, driven by the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica, and increases in greenhouse gases, they have increased the turbulence of deep ocean waters, leading to increased mixing of cold and warm water.[28] According to National Oceanography Centre oceanographer Dr Eleanor Frajka-Williams,[29] "This was the unique new process that rapidly exchanges water between the cold and the warm and then spreads the effect of the different water properties over a larger area", more efficiently than the better-known processes that mix warm surface waters with cold water from the deep sea.[28] This action rapidly warms the cold water, which contributes to rising sea levels, as water becomes less dense as it warms.[30] This newly discovered action has not yet been included in models for predicting sea level rise and the effect of climate change on the ocean.[31] The results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.[32]

A subsequent voyage for Boaty in 2017 was in the North Sea. Fitted with new chemical and acoustic sensors, these will enable Boaty to seek, or 'sniff out' traces indicating the artificial release of gas from beneath the seabed.[7] This will be part of a world first 'real world' controlled experiment in deep-water, in order to simulate any potential release of gas that may be indicative of leakage from a carbon capture and storage reservoir; and will be lead by the NOC.[7]

Following on from her North Sea exploits, Boaty will head north in a major technical challenge, and attempt the first ever under-ice crossing of the Arctic Ocean.[7]

Starting March 2017, Boaty will also provide a package of online educational resources, primarily for teachers in low-attaining primary and secondary schools, as an aid to improving learning in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects for pupils.[7] This material from Boaty will also be made available to the general public.[7]

During January and February 2018, Boaty completed her first mission under-ice. He was deployed in the southern section of the Weddell Sea, spending a total of 51 hours under the Antarctic ice. Part of the Filchner Ice Shelf System Project, she travelled a total of 108 kilometres (67 miles) and reached water depths of 944 metres (3,097 feet) during the mission. Boaty spent 20 hours underneath a 550 metres (1,800 feet) thick section of ice shelf.[1]

On 3 November 2020, Boaty McBoatface headed for the open seas to start trials before a scheduled trip to Antarctica in 2021 for climate change research.[33]

Similar names[edit]

Trainy McTrainface (unit number 74005) Stadler FLIRT of MTR Express at Gothenburg Central Station in 2019, named following the disappointment of the McBoatface decision.

Bjorn Baker's team at Sydney's Warwick Farm Racecourse caught wind of the crowdsourced name Boaty McBoatface, and decided that they would pay homage to them by naming their new racehorse Horsey McHorseface.[34] Horsey McHorseface was put to auction and sold for $17,325,[35] but in 2017 was euthanised due to bone disease.[36]

Swedish rail transport company MTR Express conducted an online poll in conjunction with Swedish newspaper Metro, not long after the one involving Boaty McBoatface, to name a new train on the Stockholm to Gothenburg line. Trainy McTrainface won the poll with 49% of the vote, and the train was named accordingly.[18][37] MTR Express stated that "the McBoatface decision had led to disappointment worldwide", and "it hoped the name Trainy McTrainface would "be received with joy by many, not only in Sweden"".[18]

Sydney Ferries allowed the public to name its fleet of Emerald-class ferries through a naming competition.[38] It was announced that the most popular name was Boaty McBoatface but, as it had already been taken, the judges opted to go instead for the second-place choice, and one of the ferries was thus named Ferry McFerryface.[39] After the Maritime Union of Australia refused to crew the vessel in protest at the name, it entered service named Emerald 6, with a Ferry McFerryface sticker below the bridge.[19][40][41] It later emerged that the name Ferry McFerryface had received only 182 votes in the poll; following a freedom of information (FOI) request by Channel Nine, it had been selected by the New South Wales Transport Minister out of his personal preference for the name,[42] which was subsequently changed.[43]

In 2016, Google released an English grammar parsing software package named Parsey McParseface.[44]

In December 2016, after an online poll for children, Oldham Council chose to name one of their new gritter trucks (salt truck) Nicole Saltslinger following more than 5000 entries.[45] In November 2017, following public submissions, Doncaster Council announced the names for two new additional gritter trucks (salt truck) to their fleet; namely Gritsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Anti-Slip Machiney (with 52.6% of the vote), and David Plowie (47.4% of the vote). This follows its five previously named gritters: Brad Grit, Gritney Spears, The Subzero Hero, Mr Plow, and Usain Salt.[46] The following year, in October 2018, Shropshire Council followed the similar theme, and named one of its gritters (salt truck) Gritty McGritface after a public vote.[47] Many other local authorities in Britain have also asked the public for name suggestions for their winter maintenance fleet.[46]

Megabus' United Kingdom operation hosted a Twitter poll in late 2017 to name some of their brand-new Plaxton Elite bodied Volvo B11RT inter-deck coaches. Mega McMegaface won, and the name was applied to one of the vehicles.[48]

In March of 2017, SoccerCity San Diego, an ownership group attempting to bring a Major League Soccer expansion franchise to the city, launched a poll seeking suggestions for said team's name. Topping said online survey was Footy McFooty Face.[49]

Also in March 2017, the Isle of Wight Council, which operates the Cowes Floating Bridge (a chain ferry across the River Medina between Cowes and East Cowes), stated it was open to suggestions from residents for a new name for the vessel, after originally registering it as Floating Bridge No.6. Despite council officials ruling out Floaty McFloatface as a name,[50] a petition was later created to name the vessel Floaty McFloatface, attracting over 2,000 signatures,[51] and even caused the council to rescind its decision to veto the name.[52]

In December 2018, Formula E team Mahindra Racing announced the name of their new car, Electro McElectroFace.[53]

In 2018, a naming contest for a sculpture of a Muskox took place in Yellowknife, NWT, Canada. Musky McMuskoxface was a name in the running, but did not win. The successful winning name was instead Elon Muskox.[54]

In June 2019, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council named a skate park Skatey McSkateface after a public vote.[55]

In November 2020, the Dutch municipality of IJmuiden refused to name the new Sluice lock Sluice McSluiceface or Sluisje McSluisface in Dutch. The name eventually chosen was Zeesluis IJmuiden (Sea Sluice IJmuiden).[56]

In February 2021, the Minnesota Department of Transportation arranged a contest to name a new snowplow. One of the fifty finalists selected from about 24,000 entries was "Plowy McPlowface."[57]


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  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Amos, Jonathan (BBC Science Correspondent) (17 October 2016). "Arctic crossing planned for 'Boaty' sub". London, England, UK: British Broadcasting Corporation. BBC News, Science & Environment. Retrieved 6 December 2020. The UK’s favourite new yellow submarine, Boaty McBoatface, is in training for a grand challenge.
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  17. ^ Eastaugh, Sophie (15 April 2016). "Racehorse named Horsey McHorseFace because 'hey, why not?'". CNN.
  18. ^ a b c Hern, Alex (19 July 2017). "Trainy McTrainface: Swedish railway keeps Boaty's legacy alive". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Ferry McFerryface to be name of new Sydney ferry after public vote". ABC News. 13 November 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  20. ^ Washington, Boer Deng (17 May 2016). "Stealthy McStealthface reports for service". The Times. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  21. ^ "Footy McFooty Face is stomping competition in vote for MLS team name". National Public Radio. 28 March 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  22. ^ "Sluisje McSluisface: the lock name that could have been". dutchreview. 31 December 2020. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  23. ^ "Trump and the Boaty McBoatfacing of America". New York Times. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  24. ^ "Dynamics of the Orkney Passage Outflow (DynOPO)". Cambridge, England, UK: British Antarctic Survey (BAS). 30 September 2018 [1 October 2014]. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
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  27. ^ Naveira Garabato, Alberto C.; et al. (2017). RRS James Cook Cruise JR16005, 17 Mar - 08 May 2017. The Dynamics of the Orkney Passage Outflow (DynOPO). (Technical report). National Oceanography CentreNatural Environment Research Council. 47.
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  29. ^ "Dr Eleanor Frajka-Williams". Southampton, England: National Oceanography Centre (NOC). Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  30. ^ Donnelly, Laura (17 June 2019). "Boaty McBoatface makes major climate change discovery on maiden outing". The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
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  32. ^ Naveira Garabato, Alberto C; Frajka-Williams, Eleanor; Spingys, Carl P; Legg, Sonya; Polzin, Kurt L; Forryan, Alexander; Abrahamsen, Povl; Buckingham, Christian; Griffies, Stephen M; McPhail, Stephen; Nicholls, Keith; Thomas, Leif N; Meredith, Michael (18 June 2019). "Rapid mixing and exchange of deep-ocean waters in an abyssal boundary current". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 116 (27): 13233–13238. Bibcode:2019PNAS..11613233N. doi:10.1073/pnas.1904087116. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 6613131. PMID 31213535.
  33. ^ "Britain's 'Boaty McBoatface' heads for open seas" (Video 0:45). Reuters. 3 November 2020.
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  35. ^ Sheehan, Luke (30 June 2017). "Horsey McHorseface for sale". Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  36. ^ Sheehan, Luke (22 October 2017). "Sad end to McHorseface tale". Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  37. ^ "It's official! Sweden names new train Trainy McTrainface". Stockholm: The Local. 17 October 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  38. ^ Visentin, Lisa (22 July 2016). "Ferry McFerryface? NSW government launches naming competition for new ferries". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  39. ^ Transport NSW. "It's official. We have named the final ferry in the new fleet. Welcome to Sydney, Ferry McFerryFace". Transport NSW, via Facebook. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  40. ^ "Ferry workers to boycott Ferry McFerryface". SBS World News. 14 November 2017.
  41. ^ "Ferry McFerryface sets sail as union, government agree to name change". Seven News. Archived from the original on 14 January 2018. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  42. ^ Zhou, Naaman (30 January 2018). "Ferry McFerryface unmasked: FOI reveals minister chose name, not the public. Channel Nine request reveals voters wanted ferry named after Clean Up Australia founder Ian Kiernan". Sydney, Australia: The Guardian. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  43. ^ "Ferry McFerryface saga not over yet for Transport Minister Andrew Constance". The Sydney Morning Herald. 31 January 2018.
  44. ^ "Announcing SyntaxNet: the world's most accurate parser goes open source". 12 May 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  45. ^ "Road gritter named after Nicole Scherzinger". London, England, UK: British Broadcasting Corporation. BBC News. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  46. ^ a b "Doncaster's new gritters named David Plowie and Gritsy Bitsy". London, England, UK: British Broadcasting Corporation. BBC News. 17 November 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  47. ^ "'Gritty McGritface' wins naming ballot". London, England, UK: British Broadcasting Corporation. BBC News. 27 October 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  48. ^ "Kein neues "Boaty McBoatface"" [No new 'Boaty McBoatface']. (in German). Der Standard. 2 November 2018. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  49. ^ Ng, Alfred (24 March 2017). "Footy McFoot Face leads polls for soccer team's new name". CNETCBS Interactive Inc. Archived from the original on 26 March 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  50. ^ "Council torpedoes 'Floaty McFloatface' idea". Newshub. 4 March 2017.
  51. ^ "Floaty McFloatface? Petition launched to name the new Isle of Wight floating bridge". YBW. 29 March 2017.
  52. ^ "Floaty McFloat Face 'still an option' as council looks for new bridge name". Southampton: Southern Daily Echo. 28 March 2017.
  53. ^ Cobb, Haydn (14 December 2018). "Mahindra enters 'Electro McElectroFace' car name". Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  54. ^ "Meet Elon Muskox, the Yellowknife sculpture named after Tesla CEO". CBC News. 21 December 2018.
  55. ^ "'Skatey McSkateface' wins public vote for Southend skate park". London, England, UK: British Broadcasting Corporation. BBC News. 17 June 2019.
  56. ^ "Sea lock won't be called Sluice McSluiceface". 25 October 2020.
  57. ^ "Plowy McPlowface? Voting opens in MnDOT snowplow naming contest". 18 February 2021.

External links[edit]