Submersible Facts



  • Submersibles are small underwater craft. Some arc designed for very deep descents for ocean research. Others are designed for exploring wrecks.
  • One early submersible was a strong metal ball or bathysphere, lowered by cables from a ship.
  • The bathysphere was built by Americans William Beebe and Otis Barton. On 11 June 1931 they used it to descend 900 m off the coast of Bermuda.
  • The bathyscaphe was a diving craft that could be controlled underwater, unlike the bathysphere. Its strong steel hull meant it could descend 4000 in.
  • The first bathyscaphe, the FN RS 2, was developed by Swiss scientist August Piccard between 1946 and 1948. An improved version, the FNRS 3, descended 4000 m off Senegal on 15 February 1954.
  • In the 1960s the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in the USA began to develop a smaller, more maneuverable submersible, called Alvin.
  • ROVs or Remote Operated Vehicles are small robot submersibles. ROVs are controlled from a ship with video cameras and computer virtual reality systems. Using the ROV Argo-Jason, Robert Ballard found the wreck of the liner Titanic in 1985.
  • Deep Flight is a revolutionary submersible with wings that can fly underwater like an airplane, turning, diving, banking and rolling.
  • A new breed of small submersibles, like the Sea Star and Deep Rover, cost about the same as a big car and are designed for sports as well as research
  • On 23 January 1960, the bathyscaphe Trieste, controlled by August Piccard’s son Jacques, descended a record 10,916 in the Marianas Trench in the Pacific.