Vikki Batten, PADI Technical Diving Division
It was announced yesterday that Poseidon Diving Systems are one of the partners in Virgin Oceanic’s new quest. Richard Branson and Chris Welch plan to visit the deepest places in the five oceans in a the Deep Flight Challenger a submarine.
Poseidon will provide rebreathers and technology for use in some of the support functions. Whilst this is a little beyond the scope of PADI training it is amazing to think that rebreathers have evolved far enough that a recreational rebreather can be involved in an expedition such as this.
The submarine was designed by Graham Hawkes and looks more like a plane than a submarine. It will be piloted by one person and the project aims to visit each of the following locations:
Pacific Ocean – Mariana Trench 36,201 feet – the deepest spot on the planet
Atlantic Ocean – Puerto Rico Trench 28,232 feet
Indian Ocean – Diamantina Trench 26,401 feet
Southern Ocean – South Sandwich Trench 23,737 feet
Arctic Ocean – Molloy Deep 18,399 feet
The challenge of not only surviving but operating effectively at these depths and pressures is huge. The pressure at the seabed in the Mariana Trench is nearly 1100 times greater than at sea level (Go back to your PADI Open Water Manual if you want to work it out accurately) providing an engineering challenge that has meant that only one vessel has been to this depth before. Branson stated that although this is a risk the biggest concern is entanglement or snagging on debris that they don’t see in time to avoid. As such there is a big investment in what is the best sensor to aid them in this.
I think this will herald a renewed interest in ocean exploration at all levels and that is great for divers everywhere. Thanks to Poseidon for inviting me to tag along and Sir Richard (in case you are reading this) let me know if you have a headache and need someone to take your place!