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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Maritime Logistics Professional

RV Deepsea Challenger

Posted to Maritime Musings (by on April 10, 2012

A momentous journey to the deepest point in the sea.

On March 25, 2012, James Cameron (director of the films Titanic and Avatar, among others) piloted the research vessel Deepsea Challenger (DCV1) into the Challenger Deep, 35,814 feet below sea level and the deepest known point in the world’s oceans.  The journey took approximately six-and-one-half hours roundtrip, including over two hours exploring the ocean floor.  This was only the second time humans have reached this depth.   On January 23, 1960, the bathyscaphe Trieste descended into the Challenger Deep carrying two men – Jacques Piccard and LT Don Walsh, USN.  The HMS Challenger first sounded this location in 1875.  The Deepsea Challenger is 24 feet in length and displaces approximately 12 tons.  Electric motors drive twelve thrusters and allow the craft to reach a speed of about three knots.  The vessel is designed to travel up and down, rather than horizontally.  It has a 43-inch diameter pilot sphere at one end (actually the bottom of the craft when in use).  It carries about 1,000 pounds of ballast weight, for use during descent.  The ballast weight is released when the operator wants to return to the surface.  Prior to its record-tying descent into the Challenger Deep, the Deepsea Challenger made test dives at the Sydney Naval Yard near where it was constructed in Australia and in the New Britain Trench between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, where it reached a maximum depth of 26,791 feet.  The Deepsea Challenger carries scientific sampling equipment, high-definition 3-D cameras, and lighting.  The construction and expedition were funded in part by the National Geographic.  More deep-diving submersibles are under construction or in the planning stage, so one should expect further exploration of the deep ocean in the near future.