The Deepsea Challenger submersible that took James Cameron on a record-breaking dive seven miles under the Western Pacific is getting a new home.
The 58-year-old filmmaker and explorer made the announcement on the one-year anniversary of his solo journey to the bottom of the Mariana Trench – designating the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) as the recipient of the craft.
“The seven years we spent designing and building the Deepsea Challenger were dedicated to expanding the options available to deep-ocean researchers,” said Cameron in a joint statement. “Our sub is a scientific proof-of-concept, and our partnership with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a way to provide the technology we developed to the oceanographic community.”
He added: “WHOI is a world leader in deep submergence, both manned and unmanned. I’ve been informally associated with WHOI for more than 20 years, and I welcome this opportunity to formalise the relationship with the transfer of the Deepsea Challenger submersible system and science platform. WHOI is a place where the Deepsea Challenger system will be a living, breathing and dynamic programme going forward.”
On March 25, 2012, Cameron reached 35,756 feet in the belly of the Mariana Trench after slowly descending for more than two hours.
“When I got to the bottom … it was completely featureless and uniform,” he said. “My feeling was one of complete isolation from all of humanity. … More than anything, (it’s) realizing how tiny you are down in this big, vast, black, unknown and unexplored place.”
The transfer of ownership of the Deepsea Challenger will also earn Cameron an advisory board position on the organization’s newly launched Centre for Marine Robotics.
“Jim’s record-breaking dive was inspirational and helped shine a spotlight on the importance of the deep ocean,” said Susan Avery, president and director of WHOI. “We face many challenges in our relationship with the ocean, so there is heightened urgency to implement innovative approaches. Partnerships such as this one represent a new paradigm and will accelerate the progress of ocean science and technology development.”
The sub is expected to be delivered in early summer.
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