Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate says it’ll build not just one, but two deep-sea submersibles capable of taking crews as far down as 6,000 meters (3.7 miles) beneath the ocean surface, into a zone of perpetual darkness.
The vessels will take advantage of the same carbon-fiber and titanium design that was pioneered for OceanGate’s Titan submersible, which was built for exploration of the Titanic shipwreck site, nearly 4,000 meters (2.4 miles) down.
Interest in the Titanic trips, which are due to begin next summer, is one of the factors behind the planned expansion of OceanGate’s fleet.
“Increasing demand for Titanic missions, deep-sea research and environmental supervision of deep-sea mining have further reinforced the business case for adding to our dive capacity,” OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush said Tuesday in a news release.
Rush said the Titan’s test dives in the Bahamas have validated OceanGate’s structural concepts, including its hull-monitoring sensor system. Now the company will be working with a new aerospace manufacturing vendor to extend the submersibles’ capability to the 6,000-meter level. That would make it possible for OceanGate’s fleet to reach 98 percent of the ocean floor, Rush said.
In addition to Titan, the current fleet includes Cyclops 1 (rated for depths of up to 500 meters) and Antipodes (rated for 300 meters). This week, the Cyclops 1 is conducting an underwater survey of a sunken railcar barge known as the MT6 in Elliott Bay.
Because Titan was once known as Cyclops 2, the working titles for the new submersibles will be Cyclops 3 and 4.
Next year, OceanGate’s series of weeklong Titanic Survey Expeditions will provide opportunities for shipwreck experts and mission specialists to get a close look at the nearly 108-year-old wreck of the Titanic ocean liner, which was found in 1985 and is now said to be rapidly deteriorating. To participate, the mission specialists are paying a fare of more than $100,000 — which is roughly equivalent to the first-class fare for the Titanic’s first and only voyage in 1912.
OceanGate Expeditions will also be taking applications for the Bahamas 2020 whale, shark and shipwreck expedition with the University of The Bahamas; and a Hudson Canyon Expedition off the coast of New York City.