Boaty McBoatface, not an actual boat, embarks on first Antarctic mission

Boaty McBoatface will embark on its maiden journey this week, traveling to frigid Antarctica to chart some of the ocean's deepest and coldest depths in an effort to understand how they affect climate change.

There's just one catch: Boaty McBoatface isn't a boat, and it doesn't have a face.

The name gained global fame last year after voters overwhelmingly chose it to christen Britain's new $300 million research ship in an online poll. The British government pooh-poohed the idea, suggesting it wasn't "suitable" for the grand vessel later named after the famed English naturalist David Attenborough.

It was suitable, apparently, for a yellow submarine—one no one lives on.

This Boaty, which the BBC notes now refers to two other vessels as well, will leave Punta Arenas, Chile on Friday on the British polar research ship, the RRS James Clark Ross, the University of Southampton announced.

Arriving in the Antarctic, the ship will drop the robotic sub into region roughly two miles deep called the Orkney Passage, the university said. Once there, Boaty will go back and forth through a deep current of bottom water, measuring the intensity of underwater turbulence. Shifting winds off Antarctica may increase such turbulence, the university said, sucking in heat from shallower ocean layers and sending it toward the Equator to affect climate change.

And as for Boaty's next big adventure, Britain's National Oceanography Center hopes the sub can make the first under-ice crossing of the Arctic, BBC reported, a novel feat slated for 2018 or 2019.

Boaty McBoatface fans will presumably cheer the little vessel on, as they did this week in tweets like this:

Follow Josh Hafner on Twitter: @joshhafner

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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