Exploring the Abyss

Super Submarines

You may find this hard to credit, but despite the march of technological expertise, humanity has only ever managed to explore around one twentieth, or a mere 5% of the unknown mysteries that lay hidden below the surface of the oceans globally. In truth, such exploration is such an expensive undertaking that only the wealthiest can afford it, ans we are seeing more and more that immensely wealthy people are responding to the urge to see what secrets the deep ocean has to reveal, especially in places where man has not previously ventured. he hidden depths of sea-beds so far down that an has never actually seen them in person.

Thanks to a plethora of revolutionary new manufacturing techniques,  materials have suddenly made an appearance that are far superior in strength and durability, so much so that, alongside ultra-advanced guidance systems, they have enabled the construction of several so-called  super-submersibles. These machines, resistant to the immense pressures of the deep ocean in ways never before experienced, are now being put up for sale by a certain marine companies, in the knowledge that full examination of many of the deepest ocean trenches is yet to happen.

That being so, these companies realise that the possibilities are breath-taking, and indeed some vastly wealthy men, from billionaire Richard Branson, and film director James Cameron, through to Google chairman Eric Schmidt have all taken the plunge to get involved. Branson has invested heavily in California based company Deep Flight, whose super submersibles, according to creator  Patrick Lahey, can carry taking three passengers down as far as 3000 ft below the waves.

Lahey intends, ultimately, to develop  submersibles capable of safely reaching the very deepest parts of the unexplored oceans, like the 33.000 ft deep Challenger Deep. This part of the Pacific ocean is the deepest point on earth – any craft going down there would have to negotiate pressures one thousand times greater than that at the surface, something that, until now, only one, not very manouverable old bathyscaphe managed to do. 

The company have come up with a design featuring a special glass sphere, that will be composed of four inch thick materials. This would obviously give occupants a 360 degree, view of the ocean floor around them, subject to the deployment of intensely powerful searchlights. This device will carry more than one person, though also in development is a one-person, high-performance submersible dubbed Deep Flight Challenger, which in theory could survive at depths of 37,000 ft.

James Cameron, meanwhile, in March 2012,  became the first person ever, to actually explore this huge Marianas Trench – deeper than Mt Everest is tall and bigger by far than the Grand Canyon – inside an $8 million submersible in which he also explored, that summer, the New Zealand Kermadec-Tonga trench.

When you consider that only someone as rich as Google chairman Eric Schmidt could possibly afford the $40 million price tag of the San Francisco  Deep Ocean Exploration and Research vessel  Deepsearch, you understand why so few ever get to experience such events. This craft is planned to be t capable of reaching that tremendous depth in less the 60 minutes, but very few  will ever get to make such trips.

For me, the most exciting aspect of this new technology is that it could potentially open up a whole new world, not just in solving the mysteries of that unexplored 95% of the oceans, but in enabling humanity to conceivably colonize those ocean depths, living and working below the waves in a new and exciting world. The possibilities are most certainly mouth-watering, and I feel certain that, before the end of the 21st century, many of them will really come to be reality.


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One Response

  1. Tony H Leather

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