Published: Tue, March 14, 2017
Science | By Boyd Webster

"Boaty McBoatface" to Embark on First Mission


As a nod to democracy - and a sense of humour - Johnson agreed that the Boaty McBoatface name could be given to a remote-control robotic underwater vehicle which will eventually sit on board the main ship. The Internet, being the Internet, responded as expected: by voting overwhelmingly to name the ship, estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, "Boaty McBoatface".

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.

Boaty McBoatface may be a amusing name, but the submarine's ability to carry out important research is serious.

Boaty McBoatface has all the bells and whistles one could ever ask for in a remote-controlled underwater research submarine: the ability to travel under ice, transmit data to its mothership, and reach depths of almost 20,000 feet. But Boaty McBoatface is already on the job.

To satisfy Boaty's fans, the winning name has been used for a drone submarine during exploration of the polar region, Fox News reported.

All jokes aside, NERC is insistent the public remember that Boaty McBoatface is engaged in serious and important business.

When the former BBC Radio Jersey presenter James Hand jokingly suggested Boaty McBoatface, it quickly became the most popular choice and the name won the vote by a huge majority.

In a deeply unpopular move, the NERC deemed the victor a "brilliant name" but nonetheless opted to call the vessel the "RRS David Attenborough", the fifth-place result. Once there, Boaty will go back and forth through a deep current of bottom water, measuring the intensity of underwater turbulence.

Professor Alberto Naveira Garabato from the University of Southampton, the lead scientist of the expedition, said: "The Orkney Passage is a key chokepoint to the flow of abyssal waters in which we expect the mechanism linking changing winds to abyssal water warming to operate. More recently we have been pioneering the development and use of long range underwater and unmanned surface vehicles". The vessel will probe the Southern Ocean's water flow and turbulence.

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