I guess that the people at NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) thought it was a great way to increase engagement with their brand and organisation by inviting the public online to name their new ship.
I'm not sure they expected that the leading name by a huge margin would be Boaty McBoatface . It will be interesting to see if their commitment to the idea goes so far as to launch the vessel with that name.
I think this might be another example of missing the importance of good brands and communication being simultaneously Disruptive, Engaging and Meaningful. In this case they've let an exciting way to be engaging for its own sake overcome the aim. But at least it has led to disruption and we are talking about an organisation that might otherwise be obscure to us.
... but do any of us know of or are we discussing the work they do?