The British government provided Charles Wyville Thomson with the HMS Challenger warship for the Challenger expedition.
It was a 200-foot sailing ship, but it was equipped with a 1,200-horsepower engine to power dredging experiments.
All but two of the ship’s 18 guns were removed and replaced with scientific laboratories and storage space.
The ship had a crew of 243, only six of whom were scientists, and it was the first ship specially equipped for oceanographic research.
It was about to go on a voyage that would cover about 69,000 nautical miles covering three oceans, the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Antarctic, and visiting five continents.
The Challenger embarked from England on December 21, 1872.
Before the Challenger expedition, many scientists thought the ocean floor was covered with a primordial, meaning “existing from the original creation”, slime called bathybius that was the source of all life on Earth.
The expedition found the slime to be simply a jellylike form of calcium sulfate, not living matter.