Everett, WA - June 27, 2018 – OceanGate announces successful unmanned depth test of the manned submersible, Titan, to validate the hull to a depth of 4,000 meters (13,123 feet). Titan is the world’s first privately owned five-person manned submersible to reach this depth and opens over 50% of the ocean to manned exploration. Designed and engineered by OceanGate, Titan is constructed from carbon fiber and titanium and is the largest submersible of its type in the world. The sub is scheduled to survey the wreck of the RMS Titanic in 2019.
As part of Titan’s extensive testing program, the OceanGate team conducted a series of unmanned dives by lowering the submersible on a monofilament line incrementally to 4,000 meters. Onboard the sub, strain gauges, viewport displacement sensors and a custom designed acoustic sensor system measured the health of the hull to provide data that the team analyzed during and between dives. Using a Teledyne Benthos acoustic modem, the team monitored select data during the dives and then a detailed analysis of the many gigabytes of data was performed post dive prior to setting the next day’s limits. Many of these sensors will remain permanently mounted in the sub and will give the pilot real-time feedback on hull behavior on all future manned dives.
The cable test was just one phase in a test program that began nearly three years ago with the construction of a one-third scale model of the pressure vessel and the launching of Cyclops 1. The scale model underwent four rigorous pressure tests in a chamber at the University of Washington which validated carbon fiber as a viable material for the hull design. Following the cable test, Stockton Rush, OceanGate’s CEO and Chief Pilot, will dive solo in incremental depths until reaching 4,000 meters; In doing so, he will join James Cameron as one of only two people in history to solo dive to this depth.
Rush founded OceanGate in 2009 with the mission to make deep sea exploration accessible to the modern-day explorer. For decades, deep sea exploration has been limited by a severe lack of resources and government funding, and it is estimated that less than 95% of the world’s oceans have been explored to date. Titan is one of only five known manned submersibles in the world capable of reaching 4000 meters and it is the only one that is privately owned.
Titan is constructed of carbon fiber and titanium, making it significantly lighter than other submersibles constructed from just steel or titanium. The vessel’s light weight coupled with an integrated launch and recovery platform significantly reduces transport and operating costs making it a more financially viable option for individuals interested in exploring the deep.
Titan is also the first, and only, manned submersible to implement real-time hull structural health monitoring by placing acoustic sensors and strain gauges throughout the hull. “The use of an acoustic emission monitoring is critical for human occupied pressure vessels” commented Allen Green, an expert in acoustic emissions monitoring. “This safety feature gives real time feedback and warns the pilot well in advance of any potential problem. It’s an early warning system that no other sub has.”
Titan’s first expedition is scheduled to launch in June of 2019 for the first manned submersible mission to the RMS Titanic since 2005. The Titanic Survey Expedition is a 6-week research expedition to digitally document and preserve the historic site. Civilian explorers will join content experts, researchers and the expedition crew in a series of dives to personally observe wreck site and debris field before it succumbs to the immense pressures found at 3800 meters and is gone forever. The submersible pilot will rely on iXblue’s Phins 6000 and Posidonia for navigation to ensure precise positioning as the expedition team laser scans the wreck site with a 2G Robotics 3D laser scanner and captures the first ever 4K images with a SubC Imaging camera and six Deep Sea Power and Light 10K lumen LED lights. The data collected will be used to create a 3D virtual model. Researchers will use the photorealistic model to assess the rate of decay over time. Understanding the decay will also help to assess the environmental impact of the hundreds of thousands of other shipwrecks around the globe.
The Titanic is the first of many deep-sea sites that OceanGate will explore. The company is developing plans for its own expeditions throughout the world and is also working with multiple clients for commercial and research projects.
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