A new era of underwater exploration was ushered in as explorer Victor Vescovo and his team from the Five Deeps Expedition recently completed a series of manned submersible dives into the Mariana Trench, the deepest known area in the ocean. RAID Instructor Kelvin Murray is Director of Expedition Operations & Undersea Projects with EYOS Expeditions and was onboard the mother ship as Assistant Expedition Leader. EYOS Expeditions is the world’s foremost provider of private vessel expeditions and carry remarkable expertise within their ranks. Led by co-founder Rob McCallum, one of the world’s foremost experts in
The previous 60 years saw only two manned dives into Challenger Deep, pioneered by Captain Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard aboard Bathyscaphe Triestein 1960, followed by James Cameron and his sub Deepsea Challengerin 2012. Vescovo and the Five Deeps team dived four times into Challenger Deep, and a fifth dive into the nearby Sirena Deep. Achieving a new record depth of 10,928 metres, Designed and built by leading manufacturer Triton Submarines, DSV Limiting Factoris now the world’s first and only commercially-certified full ocean depth manned submersible.
Remarking upon these incredible dives to the deepest part of the ocean, Kelvin explained; “Every diver can relate to how the sub operates; maintaining buoyancy control, moving in a three-dimensional environment, responding to pressure changes…although 1100 bar is a pretty extreme ambient pressure!” The submersible also incorporates rebreather technology. Within the titanium hull are banks of oxygen cylinders that trickle gas into the atmosphere, while sofnolime scrubber units run continuously to extract carbon dioxide. Gas sensors monitor the environment and alert the pilot to significant changes.
There has been a lot of focus on the sightings of plastic garbage in the Trench, and however disappointing this is, it is hardly surprising. Kelvin is quick to point out that the diving community is finely-attuned to the issues of ocean plastic; “I hope that other RAID divers and our colleagues across the scuba world can take some inspiration from the Five Deeps Expedition and do more to protect and conserve our oceans. We all have a part to play.”
While not every diver will be able to reach the deepest trenches of the oceans, Kelvin is convinced everyone can get involved; “The RAID system enables every diver with a broad training platform and a healthy spirit of adventure. Develop and use your skills – there’s still so much more of our underwater world to explore!”