The lowest point in the world’s oceans is the Challenger Deep, more than 35,000 feet below the surface.
While 12 astronauts have walked on the moon, only seven people have explored this trench in the Pacific. “That makes it the most exclusive destination on Earth,”
Next summer in February 2021, Eyos Expeditions plans to make it a little more accessible, by taking a few brave souls over six miles down aboard the Limiting Factor, a two-person submarine. The cost? At least $750,000. It’s the ultimate expression of the travel industry’s obsession with extreme adventures.
Currently, only three manned expeditions have ever been made to the bottom of Challenger Deep and more people have been to the moon than to the bottom of the ocean. 4,000 people have been to Everest and 562 to space; only 7 have made it to Challenger Deep.
The Mission Specialists accompanying this expedition will step into the history books for being amongst the first 15 humans to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench/Challenger Deep at 10,928 metres/35,853 feet deep.
A full day dive
Each dive will take up to 14 hours as the descent of over 7 miles requires over 4 hours. The divers will spend up to 4 hours on the seafloor, where they will get to explore Earth’s most exclusive destination and potentially film some of the most extraordinary species on the planet. They will then begin a 4-hour ascent back to the surface.
Ring of Fire Expedition
The dive is part of a much longer six-month long Ring of Fire expedition EYOS and Caladan Oceanic are operating. For this expedition, Mission Specialists will board the hadal exploration vessel, DSSV Pressure Drop, in February 2021, in Agat (Guam) and reach the Mariana Trench after a day at sea.
Submersible Limiting Factor
The expedition will use Caladan Oceanic’s submersible Limiting Factor, which has been pressure tested (in a test chamber) to 14,000 metres and has already dived 5 times to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. It is the only vehicle ever constructed that is capable of multiple dives to full ocean depth. The occupants of the submersible are completely protected by the 90mm thick titanium sphere and experience no pressure changes or physiological stresses at all. Indeed, the inside of the sub is quiet, peaceful and very relaxing.
The sub has two comfortable seats, three view ports, and hi-definition ‘surround’ cameras.
Whilst onboard, Mission Specialists will be fully integrated members of the team and free to work alongside the sonar operator/ocean mappers, submersible technicians, film production team, expedition management and ship’s officers to gain an insight into the complexities and challenges of hadal exploration.
Tracking and communicating with the sub is a great way to spend the day, as is the launch and recovery sequence which is an “all hands” activity.
When you are not diving, you relax by taking in a movie, heading to the gym, reading, or heading up to the ‘Sky Bar’ for a sundowner.”
No formal pre-departure training is required, and Mission Specialists will receive a comprehensive shipboard and sub orientation as part of pre-dive preparations.
“The Ring of Fire expedition will continue the groundbreaking work of the Five Deeps Expedition last year. Its collective mission is to verify and test the deepest points possible, collect and analyze scientific samples, and extend humankind’s knowledge of the most extreme environment on Earth.
Pressure Drop will further contribute to science with powerful full-ocean-depth sonar – Kongsberg EM-124. It can produce high resolution 3D maps of the deepest seafloor in order to further our knowledge of the oceans.”
Contributions to Science
The science team – led by Five Deeps veteran Dr. Alan Jamieson from Newcastle University – will deploy landers to collect further biological samples and shoot valuable video footage.
This continues the work of the FDE where over 40 new species have already been identified, with this number expected to rise significantly as the samples are processed.
The dives will also continue to assess and document environmental impact (including plastic pollution) at the deepest point of the oceans. (On the Limiting Factor’s previous dives to Challenger Deep, both new species and discarded plastic were found.)
EYOS Expeditions’ team has cumulatively completed over 1,200 expeditions, and will plan, manage and lead all aspects of the expedition including logistical support, team travel and permits.
“EYOS Expeditions are perhaps the only entity in the world with the experience in oceanic diving and remote-location expeditions that could coordinate a project of this size and scale. Caladan Oceanic has provided the incredible platform and partnership to make this opportunity possible; it will be a terrific challenge but also a fantastic opportunity for all parties,” added Lyons.
Preparations for the expedition last year included the design and manufacture of a two-man submersible by Triton Submarines of Florida. This vehicle, a Triton 36000/2, became the first and only submersible in the world classified with a ‘Depth Unlimited’ rating.
It is a remarkable craft, uniquely capable of reaching any depth, in any ocean and to do so for an indefinite number of dives. This vehicle is considered the pathfinder into Earth’s last frontier, the hadal zone (i.e. the ocean below 6,000 metres).
– Amit Kalsi, Private Travel Designer