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Review of Deep Ocean Manned Submersible Activity in 2013

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The world of manned underwater vehicles (MUV) in 2013 counts a total of 95 active submersibles used for ocean research, tourism, and commercial, leisure, and security applications. The MUV industry safety record remains pristine, with not a single incident involving loss of life in over 40 years. The paper reviews the state and future directions for the world’s deepest ocean research submersibles. In 2012 and 2013, the world of deep research submersibles saw dramatic advances, reaching full ocean depth for the first time in more than 50 years. The record of the world’s deepest submersible held by Japan’s Shinkai 6500, rated to 6,500 m depth, for almost 25 years was surpassed by China’s 10-year development project of the Jiaolong submersible, rated to 7,000 m. The Jiaolong successfully completed its multiyear testing program, achieving full design depth in June 2012. This record feat was eclipsed, however, by the surprise disclosure and full ocean depth dive by James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenger, diving to a depth of 10,908 m in the Mariana Trench just months earlier. This depth had not been reached since the historic dive of the bathyscaphe Trieste in 1960, and brings new energy for several national organizations to develop full ocean depth submersibles. There are today a total of 14 national and commercial submersibles capable of diving 1,000 m or deeper, offering a wide range of services. This also provides a global network of rescue capability with locations in the United States, China, Japan, Russia, France, Spain, Canada, and Portugal.
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Keywords: Mariana Trench; class societies; deep diving; deep ocean research; manned submersibles

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2013-09-01

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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