Keel Laid for Polar Research Ship Formerly Known As ‘Boaty McBoatface’

RRS Sir David Attenborough. Illustration credit: NERC
RRS Sir David Attenborough. Illustration credit: NERC

Construction has started on the UK’s new state-of-the-art polar research ship that earlier this year served as the inspiration for the now-famous Boaty McBoatface internet meme.

The ship, which will actually be given the name RRS Sir David Attenborough, is being built by the Cammell Laird shipyard in Liverpool and reached its first construction milestone Monday with the laying of the keel.

The £200 million vessel was commissioned by the UK’s scientific research agency NERC, which earlier this year asked the internet’s help in naming the vessel. Almost instantly the name user-submitted name “Boaty McBoatface” began trending online and went on to win the contest by a landslide.

NERC ultimately chose the name Sir David Attenborough, after the famous English broadcaster and naturalist, as a more fitting name for the vessel – understandably. As a tribute NERC will instead be naming the ship’s state-of-the-art subsea vehicle, which it unveiled Monday, none other than Boaty McBoatface.  The Autosub Long Range (ALR) autonomous underwater vehicle is operated by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and will be used by oceanographers aboard to Sir David Attenborough to measure ocean and seabed properties over ocean scales.

“The RRS Sir David Attenborough will be one of the most advanced polar research vessels in the world and will help ensure world-class polar and deep ocean science in the decades to come,” said NERC Chief Executive Duncan Wingham. “Today’s keel laying ceremony marks the start of an exciting construction process here at Cammell Laird, which will make new science possible from 2019. While it might seem remote to the UK, it is vital to understand the polar region as one of the first places where we see the impact of global environmental changes.”