'Boaty McBoatface' is making its maiden voyage, on a research expedition to the deepest, coldest waters on earth, the Daily Mail reports.

The thousands who voted to call the British Government's polar research vessel by this name may have been disappointed after it was christened after Sir David Attenborough instead.

But the smaller submersible given the name as a compromise option is now at the centre of an important trip to the bottom of the Antarctic.

The bright yellow unmanned submersible will set off with Boaty McBoatface printed in large letters on its side. And people may have to start taking it seriously, as it is set to explore how the world's climate will change in the 21st century.


It comes a year after more than 124,000 social media users voted for Boaty McBoatface in an ill-advised poll by the Natural Environment Research Council to name the Government's £200 million polar research ship.

Despite the joke option winning, science minister Jo Johnson announced it would be named after one of the nation's "most cherished broadcasters", whose name had more than 10,000 votes, instead.

It is expected to be two years before the RRS Sir David Attenborough sets sail, but Boaty, a new type of autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), will depart from Chile today.

Remote-controlled from afar, its mission is to investigate the flow and turbulence of the Antarctic Bottom Water, which is thought to affect climate change.

The submersible will plumb the dark depths of the Orkney Passage, a 3.5km deep region of the Southern Ocean.

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

"We will measure how fast the streams flow, how turbulent they are, and how they respond to changes in winds over the Southern Ocean.

The British Government's polar research vessel is named after Sir David Attenborough. Photo / NERCscience Twitter
The British Government's polar research vessel is named after Sir David Attenborough. Photo / NERCscience Twitter

"Our goal is to learn enough about these convoluted processes to represent them in the models that scientists use to predict how our climate will evolve over the 21st century and beyond."

Boaty will travel with the DynOPO (Dynamics of the Orkney Passage Outflow) expedition on the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) research ship James Clark Ross, departing from Punta Arenas in Chile.

The craft will be sent back and forth through a cold abyssal current that forms an important part of the global circulation of ocean water.

BAS oceanographer and co-investigator Dr Povl Abrahamsen said: "The DynOPO project will provide us with a unique, high-resolution dataset combining moored and moving instruments, which will help us get to the bottom of the complex physical processes occurring in this important region."