Boaty McBoatface

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United Kingdom
Name: Boaty McBoatface
Commissioned: 2016[1]
General characteristics
Class and type: autonomous underwater vehicle (autosub long range)[2]

Boaty McBoatface is the lead boat of the Autosub Long Range-class[3] of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) used for scientific research that will be carried on the research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough owned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).[4] Because of its complexity and its extended range, NERC is classing it as an autosub long range autonomous vehicle.[5]


Although the name Boaty McBoatface was originally proposed in a March 2016 online poll to name the ship, it was eventually named RRS Sir David Attenborough.[6][7]

Former BBC Radio Jersey presenter James Hand jokingly suggested Boaty McBoatface, a name the public liked and that quickly became the most popular choice. The name has been described as an homage to Hooty McOwlface, an owl named through an "Adopt-A-Bird" programme in 2012 that became popular on the internet.[8]

Although Boaty McBoatface was the most popular suggestion in the #NameOurShip poll,[6] the suggestion to use the name for the mother ship was not followed,[9] and the Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson, announced that the Boaty McBoatface name would be used for the submersibles aboard Sir David Attenborough instead.[10]

The results of the poll inspired similar results in other naming polls.[11][12][13][14][15] These incidents suggest there is still a clear deficit in understanding how to engage crowds and avoid failures and demonstrate the backlash from NERC’s neglecting the crowd’s choice, which resulted in a sophisticated reaction in other campaigns. This highlights the importance of meaningful engagements of the crowds.[16] The literature suggests, however, that when the public are meaningfully engaged, they feel valued and provide more productive inputs.[17][18]


In 2016, the boat underwent advanced sea trials,[1] and was first used on 17 March 2017, to research ocean water flow and turbulence at the Orkney Passage, south of Chile.[19]

Similar incidents[edit]

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 race horse Horsey McHorseface.[20] The news of Horsey McHorseface broke out on social media after his win at the Lathan Arthur Thompson Memorial Maiden in Cessnock, Australia.[21] Horsey McHorseface was put to auction and sold for $17,325, but has since been euthanized due to bone disease.[22][23]

MTR Express led an online poll, not long after the one involving Boaty McBoatface, to name a new train. In the poll, Trainy McTrainface won.[24]

Sydney Ferries allowed the public to name their fleet of Emerald-class ferries through a naming competition.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27][28][29] It later emerged that the name Ferry McFerryface had received fewer than 200 votes in the poll, and had been selected by the New South Wales Transport Minister out of his personal preference for the name, which was subsequently changed.[30]

Megabus' United Kingdom operation hosted a Twitter poll in late 2017 to name some of their brand new Plaxton Elite bodied Volvo B11RT interdeck coaches. Mega McMegaface won, and the name was applied to one of the vehicles.[31]

In March 2017, the Isle of Wight Council, who operate the Cowes Floating Bridge (a chain ferry across the 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,[32] a petition was later created to name the vessel Floaty McFloatface, attracting over 2,000 signatures[33] and even caused the council to rescind its decision to veto the name.[34]


  1. ^ a b Amos, Jonathan (17 October 2016). "Arctic crossing planned for 'Boaty' sub". BBC. BBC News. Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  2. ^ Slawson, Nicola (21 July 2018). "Boaty McBoatface to go on its first Antarctic mission". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  3. ^ Amos, Jonathon (2017). "Boaty McBoatface submarine set for first voyage". London: BBC. 
  4. ^ Amos, Jonathon (2016). "Arctic crossing planned for 'Boaty' sub". London: BBC. 
  5. ^ "NOC's Autosub Long Range is Boaty McBoatface". National Oceanography Centre. NOC. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Anon (2016). "#NameOurShip". Swindon: Natural Environment Research Council. Archived from the original on 3 June 2016. 
  7. ^ "£200m polar research ship named in honour of Sir David Attenborough". NERC. Retrieved 6 May 2016. 
  8. ^ Tom Whipple (16 April 2016). "Boaty McBoatface tops poll but will vote be scuppered?"Free access subject to limited trial, subscription normally required. The Times. Retrieved 11 April 2018. Yet the runaway winner was RSS Boaty McBoatface, itself an homage to the owl that was named Hooty McOwlface after a similar exercise. 
  9. ^ Anon (21 March 2016). "Boaty McBoatface instigator 'sorry' for ship name suggestion". London: BBC. Retrieved 6 June 2016. 
  10. ^ Knapton, Sarah (2016). "'BoatyMcBoatface' to live on as yellow submarine, science minister Jo Johnson announces". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  11. ^ Sophie Eastaugh (15 April 2016). "Racehorse named Horsey McHorseFace because 'hey, why not?'". CNN. 
  12. ^ Alex Hern (19 July 2017). "Trainy McTrainface: Swedish railway keeps Boaty's legacy alive". The Guardian. 
  13. ^ "Ferry McFerryface to be name of new Sydney ferry after public vote". ABC Australia. 13 November 2017. 
  14. ^ Washington, Boer Deng (2016-05-17). "Stealthy McStealthface reports for service". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2018-08-04. 
  15. ^ "Footy McFooty Face Is Stomping Competition In Vote For MLS Team Name". Retrieved 2018-08-04. 
  16. ^ Taeihagh, Araz (2017-11-08). "Crowdsourcing: a new tool for policy-making?". Policy Sciences. 50 (4): 629–647. doi:10.1007/s11077-017-9303-3. ISSN 0032-2687. 
  17. ^ Aitamurto, Tanja (2012-01-16). "Crowdsourcing for Democracy: A New Era in Policy-Making". Rochester, NY. 
  18. ^ Landemore, Hélène (2014-02-25). "Inclusive Constitution-Making: The Icelandic Experiment". Journal of Political Philosophy. 23 (2): 166–191. doi:10.1111/jopp.12032. ISSN 0963-8016. 
  19. ^ "Boaty McBoatface sent on first Antarctic mission". LBC News. 13 March 2017. 
  20. ^ "High hopes for Horsey McHorseface". 15 April 2016. Retrieved 25 December 2017 – via 
  21. ^ "Horsey McHorseface wins first ever race after being named after Boaty McBoatface". 5 June 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2017. 
  22. ^ Sheehan, Luke -. "Horsey McHorseface for sale". Retrieved 25 December 2017. 
  23. ^ Sheehan, Luke - (22 October 2017). "Sad end to McHorseface tale". Retrieved 27 December 2017. 
  24. ^ "It's official! Sweden names new train Trainy McTrainface". 17 October 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2017. 
  25. ^ Visentin, Lisa. "Ferry McFerryface? NSW government launches naming competition for new ferries". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  26. ^ Transport NSW. "It's official. We have named the final ferry in the new fleet. Welcome to Sydney, Ferry McFerryFace". Facebook. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  27. ^ Ferry McFerryface to be the name of new Sydney ferry after public vote ABC News 14 November 2017
  28. ^ Ferry workers to boycott Ferry McFerryface SBS World News 14 November 2017
  29. ^ Ferry McFerryface sets sail as union, government agree to name change Seven News 17 December 2017
  30. ^ "Ferry McFerryface saga not over yet for Transport Minister Andrew Constance". 
  31. ^ "megabusUK on Twitter". 
  32. ^ "Council torpedoes 'Floaty McFloatface' idea". 4 March 2017 – via 
  33. ^ "Floaty McFloatface? Petition launched to name the new Isle of Wight floating bridge - YBW". 29 March 2017. 
  34. ^ "Floaty McFloat Face 'still an option' as council looks for new bridge name". Daily Echo. 

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