'Boaty McBoatface' AUV to Hit the Water on First Research Mission

  • 'Boaty McBoatface' AUV to Hit the Water on First Research Mission

'Boaty McBoatface' AUV to Hit the Water on First Research Mission

The famous yellow submarine is set to tackle its first big Antarctic mission, one year after its hysterical name was overwhelmingly selected in a public online poll.

Scientists from the University of Southampton and the British Antarctic Survey will launch Boaty into what the survey group describes as "some of the deepest and coldest abyssal ocean waters on Earth".

Officials with the U.K.'s Natural Environment Research Council decided that a more conventional name was more fitting for the research ship: It was named Sir David Attenborough, after the English broadcaster and naturalist.

However, while Boaty McBoatface owes its name to a joke, its first mission could have a serious impact on research into climate change in Antarctica.

Boaty McBoatface would receive 124,109 votes - an amount that was four times greater than the second-place finisher "RRS Poppy-Mai", which was inspired by a 16-month-old girl with terminal cancer.

Like many heroes, Boaty McBoatface's story was borne out of tragedy.

As consolation, and to keep the name alive, a submarine was dubbed Boaty instead. Fun policeman and United Kingdom science minister Jo Johnson ignored the results and named that ship the R.S.S. David Attenborough instead, but the will of 120,000 people now lives on with these three subs. This Boaty will explore and assess water flow in the Orkney Passage, a 3,500-meter-deep region 500 miles from the Antartica Peninsula. The data it collects will help scientists understand how the ocean is responding to global warming.

The DynOPO (Dynamics of the Orkney Passage Outflow) expedition will travel to the Southern Ocean aboard the BAS research ship RRS James Clark Ross, departing Punta Arenas in Chile on March 17.

The lead scientist, Professor Alberto Naveira Garabato, from the University of Southampton, said that the Orkney Passage is a key choke-point to the flow of abyssal waters in which they expect the mechanism, linking changing winds to abyssal water-warming, to operate.

Boaty and other long range underwater vehicles developed by the National Oceanography Centre are capable of exploring 95 percent of the ocean. The vessel will probe the Southern Ocean's water flow and turbulence.