Not everyone has the dream of flying high in the skies; some take it to the deepest depths of the sea. Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group of companies, has now revealed his plans to explore the deepest spots in each of the five oceans. Sir Branson, along with American sailor and explorer Chris Welsh and submarine designer Graham Hawkes, has launched the Virgin Oceanic, a project to explore the last frontiers of our own Blue Planet: the very bottom of our seas. They intend to hit the deepest depths using the Virgin Oceanic’s flying submarines. For the dives, Virgin oceanic will use the DeepFlight Challenger submersible built by Hawkes Ocean Technologies of Point Richmond, Calif.
Five Dives, Five Oceans, Two Years, One Epic Adventure
The Virgin Oceanic project proposes journey to the five deepest parts of each of Earth’s five oceans in 2011 and 2012. The first dive is planned to reach the deepest place on the planet i.e. the bottom of the Mariana Trench, which is roughly 11 kilometers straight down. The subs will hit the Mariana Trench (Pacific), Puerto Rico Trench (Atlantic), Diamantina Trench (Indian), South Sandwich Trench (Southern), and Molloy Deep (Arctic).
Interestingly, the second dive, planned to hit the bottom of the Puerto Rico Trench (the deepest in the Atlantic), will be piloted by Sir Richard Branson himself. They have even partnered with Google to assist with the charting and mapping of the sea floor during the missions.
On the launch of Virgin Oceanic, Sir Richard Branson said…
“What if I were to tell you about a planet, inhabited by ‘intelligent’ beings that had, in the 21st Century, physically explored 0% of its deepest points and mapped only 3% of its oceans by unmanned craft, when 70% of that planet’s surface was made up of water.
Then I tried to convince you that only 10% of the life forms inhabiting that unknown world, are known to those on the surface – you’d think I’d fallen asleep watching the latest sci-fi blockbuster! Then you discover that planet is Earth… ”
Virgin Oceanic Flying Sub
Sir Richard’s close friend and adventurer Steve Fossett, who had plans to complete first solo dive to the depths of the Mariana Trench, originally commissioned the Virgin Oceanic submarine. Now, Sir Richard intends to finish what his friend had dreamt of. Designed by Graham Hawkes, the flying submersible resembles a dolphin, and is made from 8,000 pounds of carbon fiber and titanium. It boasts an operating depth of 37,000 feet (7 miles) and is capable to operate independently for 24 hours.
The Virgin Oceanic Flying Sub has been designed to survive enormous pressures, 1500 times than that of an airplane. The sub can fly up to 10km over the ocean floor, travel at a maximum of three knots and can dive at 350 feet per minute. This sub also has a mothership, which is a 125′ racing catamaran.
Sir Richard Branson says…
Virgin Oceanic will expand the reach of human exploration on our planet. By promoting and utilizing new technology, Virgin Oceanic will aid human kind’s ability to explore our Oceans, assist science in understanding our eco system and raise awareness of the challenges facing our Oceans.
Source: Born Rich
Watercrafts Chris Welsh, DeepFlight Challenger submersible, Diamantina Trench, Graham Hawkes, Hawkes Ocean Technologies, Mariana Trench, Molloy Deep, Puerto Rico Trench, Sir Richard Branson, South Sandwich Trench, Virgin Group, Virgin Oceanic, Virgin Oceanic Sub, Virgin Oceanic Submarine