Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
March 13, 2017

Remember that time the internet collectively campaigned to win a boat naming contest with "Boaty McBoatface"?

Well, that boat—which everyone still refers to as Boaty McBoatface even if it's not the boat's official moniker—was actually named after naturalist Sir David Attenborough (not as fun, though well deserved, of course). But there is another sea vehicle that was awarded the name, and it took off on its maiden voyage on March 17.

Despite being called Boaty McBoatface, this submarine of sorts does some very serious work. The autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) was built for incredibly rough environments and has the ability to successfully send data while navigating at about 2,000 feet below ice. The boat's first mission has brought it to Antarctica to explore the water flow of the Orkney Passage and help researchers better comprehend how global warming is affecting the 3.5km-region in the Southern Ocean.

In an interview with The Guardian, Professor Alberto Naveira Garabato, the lead scientist on the project, shared some words on the expedition: “We will measure how fast the streams flow, how turbulent they are, and how they respond to changes in winds over the Southern Ocean. 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 depart from Punta Arenas in Chile on March 17.

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