Deep-Sea Submersible Alvin, Discoverer of the Titanic, To Be Replaced By Bigger, Badder Sub

Illustration for article titled Deep-Sea Submersible Alvin, Discoverer of the Titanic, To Be Replaced By Bigger, Badder Sub

The NY Times has a piece today about the monumental task of forging a pressure hull out of raw titanium to be used in the replacement for the legendary Alvin, the Navy's only currently operational deep-sea scientific sub that first explored the wreckage of the Titanic. Where Alvin could dive 2.4 miles down, its successor can go up to four miles under (hence the serious forging above), which will open up 99% of the ocean floor for exploration. That's a pretty big deal. As Cindy L. Van Dover, a marine biologist who has logged hundred of hours in Alvin, puts it:

"Depth is a big deal," she said. "It's hard to wax lyrical on the subject because we don't know what's there. So we can't guarantee a discovery. Yet we know that every time we extend our ability to go somewhere, we discover new things about how the planet works, about how life on the planet is adapted."

Unfortunately and as one might expect, the project's budget has ballooned (titanium alone has had a 5x increase in cost since work began), and researchers are having to get creative to scrape up the necessary funding. So 2015 is now the still somewhat shaky current target date for the bigger, badder sub's first dive. But before then, old Alvin may get some of its successor's new gear (like its titanium crew sphere) until the whole thing comes together. [NY Times]

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@snubz: Can someone disemvowel him please? It would be more legible.

Back on topic, I'm totally stoked on this project. Projects like this make me wish i was a bazillionare so I could swoop in Branson style and save the project and up the timetable with 50 million dollars. How neat would it be to go down FOUR MILES. Imagine all of the crazy stuff thats down there that nobody has ever seen. it blows my mind.