A private equity investor from Dallas, Texas and his team of explorers have completed a series of record-breaking dives to Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench, commonly known as the deepest place on earth.
The initial record-setting dive took took place on April 28 when American, Victor Vescovo, a retired U.S. Navy officer, made a solo dive to the bottom of the ‘Eastern Pool’ of the Challenger Deep, reaching a depth of 10,928 meters (35,853 feet deep) and setting a new world record for the deepest dive by any human in history. Vescovo spent four hours (248 minutes) exploring the basin, setting another new record for the longest period of time ever spent on the bottom of the ocean by an individual.
The 10,928-meter depth beats the previous manned dive record by 16 meters (52 feet).
The April 28th dive was the first of five total dives conducted by The Five Deeps Expedition exploring the Marinas Trench using the DSV Limiting Factor submersible – a Triton 36000 2 model. Vescovo made two of the dives solo, making him the first person in history to make multiple solo dives to the hadal zone below 6,000 meters (20,00o feet).
The expedition said that, on average, it took 3.5 hours for the submersible to reach the bottom of the Challenger Deep and 3.5 hours to ascend to the surface.
The last visit to the bottom of Challenger Deep was made in 2012 by filmmaker and explorer James Cameron, who reached a depth of 10,908 meters on a dive in his submersible, the Deepsea Challenger. Prior to Cameron’s dive, the first ever dive at Challenger Deep was made by the Trieste, a US Navy deep submergence bathyscape, in 1960 to 10,912 meters by Lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss scientist Jacques Piccard. Both the Trieste and Deepsea Challenger only descended to the bottom of Challenger Deep once.
Walsh was on board the dive support vessel Pressure Drop to witness the Vescovo’s historic dives.
“Our goal was to build a submersible capable of repeated dives to any depth with its pedigree and security assured by third party accreditation,” said Patrick Lahey, President of Triton Submarines. “Our dives in the Mariana Trench demonstrate we achieved our objective. The Triton 36,000/2 (“LF”) represents a quantum leap in the capabilities of a manned submersible and everyone at Triton is immensely proud to have had the privilege and opportunity to create such a remarkable craft, which was only possible by the unwavering support and vision of Victor Vescovo.”
“It has been a monumental week for ocean exploration; we have broken world records and achieved a number of world firsts. Most importantly we have opened the door to the final frontier — the exploration of the hadal zone and the workings of the deepest parts of the world’s oceans,” said Rob McCallum of EYOS Expeditions, whose company is managing the expedition.
“This vehicle is effectively a reliable elevator that can transport us to any depth, in any ocean. During this expedition we have traversed over 110 vertical kilometers (68 miles) and proved the capabilities of a vehicle that will be a platform for science, film making and exploration of Earths hidden recesses,” McCallum added.
The Five Deeps Expedition is being filmed by Atlantic Productions for a five-part Discovery Channel documentary series due to air in late 2019. The goal of the expedition is to become the world’s first manned expedition to the deepest point in each of the five oceans. The next stop on the Five Deeps Expedition is the Horizon Deep within the Tonga Trench in the South Pacific Ocean. Previously measured at 10,882 meters deep, the Tonga Trench is widely believed to be the second-deepest ocean trench in the world.