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.