May 12, 2011
1 Virgin Oceanic
2 Virgin Oceanic
Just when you though the Virgin empire couldn’t grow further, it prepares to reach the depths of the ocean.
Sir Richard Branson has built an ever-expanding empire with Virgin, spanning airlines, mobile phones, music, and now water expeditions. Less than 3% of the world’s oceans have been explored, but Branson plans to change this with the latest string to the Virgin bow.
These voyages have been backed by research teams from Virgin as well as teams from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Exploration companies such as Maersk, Poseidon and Helly Hansen have also partnered with the project and agreed to fund parts of the mission.
Two vehicles will be used for the expedition; a submarine and a catamaran. The submarine has been designed to withstand the 1000 atmospheres pressure that will be expected at the very bottom of the ocean, and will also use wings to enable it to fly back to the surface.
While the submarine will do most of the exploring, the catamaran will make a journey of 25,000 miles over 2 years. It will also act as a support vessel and a form of “space station” for the submarine and its pilot.
The submarine will take a one-man journey to the deepest part of each of the Earth’s oceans over the course of 2011 and 2012. The first dive will be to the deepest place on the planet – the bottom of the Marina Trench.
It is 11 kilometres (7 miles) straight down, and this will be the first time since 1960 that a human has ventured down there. The solo pilot, Chris Welsh, will not only reach the deepest point on Earth but will also fly along the bottom of the Trench to explore it thoroughly.
The second dive is to the bottom of the Puerto Rico Trench – the deepest spot in the Atlantic Ocean (8km/5 miles down). It will be piloted by Sir Richard Branson and will be located close to his home on Necker Island. Subsequent dives will venture down to the bottom of the Arctic, Southern and Indian Oceans where less than 3% of the seafloor has been explored.
Virgin have said that the “opportunities to see and learn from these dives are monumental”. They also believe that these explorations will provide a gateway to worlds that we never even knew existed. To follow the expedition, click HERE.