As a submariner and marine engineer officer, I was used to hearing orders like ” Dive to Two Zero Zero meters” coming from the Commanding Officer. However, knowing the perils of diving into the sea as also the technology that goes into allowing humans to dive and live under the sea, the number 5,109 meters puts me in awe. This a huge depth, where most submarines would be just crushed to a mangled tube of steel.
Triton Submarines, however, build submarines and submersibles capable of diving even further. As part of Phase 2 of the five phase the Caladan Oceanic Expeditions, the DSV Limiting Factor, a Triton 36000/2 class submarine dived to the bottom of the Calypso Deep, the deepest location in the Mediterranean Sea. The dive was carried out by Victor Vescovo who was accompanied by His Serene Highness, Prince Albert II of Monaco. The DSV Limiting Factor indicated a depth of 5,109 +/- 1 meters and confirmed the depth of the Calypso deep which had been measured as 5,110 m by the expedition onboard the French bathyscaphe Archimède on 27 September 1965. This expedition comprised Captain Gérard Huet de Froberville, Dr. Charles “Chuck” L. Drake of USA, and Henri Germaine Delauze.
The Triton 36000/2 is certified by DNV-GL for diving to full ocean depth. It is a manned submersible capable of seating two people and diving to depths exceeding 11,000 m. The submersible weighs 11,700 Kgs (25,700 lbs) and is 3.7 m high. The submersible is powered by an array of 10 powerful electric thrusters which provide for motion in all directions. There are 4 main thrusters of 5.5 KW each, 4 vertical thrusters with same capacity and two manoeuvering thrusters of 5.5 KW each. The maximum speed possible with these thrusters in 3 knots. Energy for the propulsion motors and all onboard systems comes from a pioneering set of full ocean depth certified Li-Fe-P batteries. These batteries have a storage capacity of 65 kWh of power. The batteries provide the submersible an endurance of 16 hours.
The Triton 36000/2 is fitted with four situational awareness cameras which ensure the pilot has an excellent appreciation of the surroundings. The pilot also has access to a commanding view of the sub sea environment through the three generously sized acrylic view ports. For providing illumination outside the vessel is provided with 10 LEDs of 20,000 Lumen brightness.
The Triton 36000/2 can carry a payload of 220 Kg. It is 4.6 m long, 1.9 m wide and has a height of 3.7 m. The pressure hull of the vessel has an internal diameter of 1,500 mm and the access hatch has a diameter of 450 mm. It operates on a dual 24 V system. The Triton 36000/2 is controlled from from the control room using a joystick and touch screen. For survival it is provided with CO2 scrubbers and oxygen cylinders. The vessel comes with quick-connects for oxygen & high-pressure air. The Lithium Phosphate batteries are quick charging and can be made ready for the next expedition within an hour.
“I had the honor of being accompanied on my dive by His Serene Highness, Prince Albert II of Monaco, who acted as a scientific observer during the five-plus hour dive,” reported Victor Vescovo. “We observed the bottom of the sea floor with evidence of marine wildlife but unfortunately, much more significant evidence of human contamination including numerous plastic bags, beverage cans, and even what appeared to be a discarded hose.”