According to Fortune, while the state-of-the-art $288 million vessel is being built, the council conducted a poll for people to vote on a name.
James Hand, communications manager for The Independent Association of Prep Schools, decided to throw the name "Boaty McBoatface" into the ring...and it stuck.
"I read the story about naming the ship on the BBC website on Thursday and some of the entries were really funny - my favourite was Clifford The Big Red Boat," Hand told the BBC.
"I thought I would throw one into the ring. By Friday night it was leading by a couple of thousand, and when the site crashed on Sunday it was leading by 8,000. It's been utterly bizarre.
"I've apologised profusely to the people behind the website," he went on. "It was actually nothing to do with me. It was my suggestion but the storm that has been created has legs of its own."
Hand is quite embarrassed that his name - which, as of press time, is leading by far more than 8,000 - was so popular. He tweeted an apology to the NERC, who told him not to be sorry, because the naming process was fast becoming the most popular topic on the internet.
Other suggestions are more geared towards celebrating British scientists and explorers, including David Attenborough and Henry Worlsey.
"We've had thousands of suggestions made on the website since we officially launched; many of them reflect the importance of the ship's scientific role by celebrating great British explorers and scientists," a spokesperson for the NERC said.
"We are pleased that people are embracing the idea in a spirit of fun."