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Boaty McBoatface set to embark on first mission

Boaty McBoatface, the world’s best-named submersible, is about to set off on its first mission to the Antarctic.

In case you somehow missed it, the submersible got its delightful name last year after Britain’s National Environment Research Council (NERC) asked the public to help name a new polar research vessel.

Asking the internet to help with things can be dangerous. Just for the lulz, former BBC presenter James Hand came up with the silly name, and it went on to win by 25,000 votes.

Despite ‘Boaty’ winning, it looked like the folk at NERC were going to spoil all the fun.

Controversially, NERC decided to name the vessel “RRS David Attenborough” instead. While people dearly love Attenborough, many were understandably angry about this decision. In order to appease the general public, NERC used the Boaty name for a class of three bright yellow submersibles to be used aboard the vessel.

OK, so the name lives on, even though technically a submersible isn’t a boat. Try saying, “Submersible McSubmersible face”. It just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Now the time has come for the first of the submersibles to boldly venture into the Antarctic region. Although the RRS David Attenborough won’t be to completed until 2019, Boaty is already proudly ready to serve the scientific community. Good on ya mate!

The Guardian reports that Boaty will travel to the Orkney Passage on the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) research ship James Clark Ross, departing from Chile on March 17.

Once it arrives in the Orkney Passage, it will be sent out into cold abyssal currents in order to measure the speed, temperature and wind effects of waters in the Southern Ocean.

Scientists believe that the water in the Orkney Passage is warming, and they are hoping that Boaty will help them understand the implications of this temperature rise.

Professor Mike Meredith from the BAS told BBC News:

One of these [implications] is sea-level rise because if you make water warmer obviously it expands and that pushes the sea level up. But it also has relevance for benthic ecosystems. So, the animals that live on the seabed can typically cope well with low temperatures but not all of them can cope with changes in temperatures. The fact that this water has been getting warmer may have significant consequences for these animals.

While Boaty is hard at work in the Southern Ocean, its two siblings are in Southampton being prepared for their own expeditions.

It looks like the Boaty clan is hot property. Professor Russell Wynn from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) said that they are getting lots of proposals for missions – and with three in the fleet, they are able to meet demand.

We are all rooting for you, Boaties. Keep up the good work!

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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