Crowds gather for the naming ceremony of the polar research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough at Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, Britain, Sept. 26, 2019.
Crowds gather for the naming ceremony of the polar research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough at Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, Britain, Sept. 26, 2019.

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Prince William and his wife Kate formally named a new British polar research ship Sir David Attenborough on Thursday, a more dignified title than the public's choice of Boaty McBoatface.

The humorous moniker was the most popular suggestion in an
online poll that went viral in 2016, but the government opted to
honor the naturalist and broadcaster Attenborough, who has
become a campaigner on climate issues in his 10th decade.

As a consolation prize, the name Boaty McBoatface was
instead given to a small, yellow autonomous underwater vehicle,
capable of traveling long distances under the sea ice to
collect data, which forms part of the ship's research equipment.

Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Sir David Attenborough during the naming ceremony for the new polar research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough at Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, Sept. 26, 2019.

The ceremony to formally name the Sir David Attenborough took place at a shipyard in Birkenhead, northwest England, where
the giant ice-breaker was built.

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, pressed a yellow button to
activate a lever that smashed a bottle of champagne on the
ship's hull, in accordance with maritime tradition.

Her husband Prince William, grandson of Queen Elizabeth,
said in a speech that the state-of-the-art vessel would help
expand global knowledge of the polar oceans and the impact of
climate change on them.

"As last week's climate protests the world over, and yesterday's report on our oceans and frozen regions demonstrated, there has never been a more important moment for this ship to get to work," he said.

Ushering Attenborough to speak just after him, William made
clear his preference for the official name.

"It is my immense privilege and relief to welcome Sir David
Attenborough, rather than Boaty McBoatface, to speak," he said.
The 93-year-old naturalist said it was the greatest possible
honour to have the ship named after him.

"Great problems require great research and facts to solve
them, and that's what this astonishing ship will be here to do,"
he said.

Operated by the publicly funded British Antarctic Survey,
the Sir David Attenborough is 129 meters long and can break ice
up to one meter thick at three knots (5.6 km per hour). It
requires a crew of about 30, and can carry up to 60 scientists
and support staff.

It will conduct ice trials in the northern hemisphere from
March 2020, and is scheduled to enter full service from October
next year.