I giggle each time I say it. Boaty McBoatface, a yellow submarine, earned its name after people voted on it during an online competition.

Well, now it has set out on its first mission to the Antarctic:

Boaty, which has arguably one of the most famous names in recent maritime history, is a new type of autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), which will be able to travel under ice, reach depths of 6,000 metres, and transmit the data it collects to researchers via a radio link.

Its mission will be to investigate water flow and turbulence in the dark depths of the Orkney Passage, a 3.5km deep region of the Southern Ocean. The data it collects will help scientists understand how the ocean is responding to global warming.

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 on 17 March.

The lead scientist Prof 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.

“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.”