Titan Development and Innovation

Titan, formerly known as Cyclops 2 is the only privately-owned 5-person submersible capable of reaching depths as great as 4000 meters. Featuring the most advanced technology available, this innovative submersible has the potential to revolutionize deep-sea exploration.

Project Cyclops began over three years ago with a goal of opening the deep ocean to human exploration. With the combined knowledge of our engineers, physicists and trusted partners at the University of Washington Applied Physics Lab, Boeing Research and Technology, Spencer Composites, and TiFab Corp. we built the most innovative and advanced deep sea manned-submersible.

Innovation in Material Use

Titan’s pressure vessel is comprised of carbon fiber and titanium. The filament wound cylinder that forms the center section of the pressure vessel is 5” thick and made from over 800 layers of carbon fiber material. The entire pressure vessel is comprised of two titanium hemispheres, two matching titanium interface rings, and the 142 cm (56”) internal diameter, 2.4 meters (100”) long carbon fiber wound cylinder – the largest such device ever built for use in a manned submersible.

The use of carbon fiber drastically reduces the overall weight compared to other deep-sea submersibles and the integrated launch and recovery platform increases flexibility during deployment and transportation. As a result, Titan is incredibly mobile compared to other manned submersibles, making it more financially efficient for research and exploration.

Titan, a cyclops class manned submersible, was engineered and built utilizing some of the most innovative and advanced technology and materials, including:

  • A filament wound carbon fiber hull - the largest of any manned submersible
  • Two titanium hemispheres - the forward dome hinges to serve as the access hatch for easy entry and exit
  • The largest viewport of any deep-sea manned submersible
  • Electronics and thruster control pods housed outside the pressure hull to increase space available for crew and equipment onboard
  • A fiberglass hull insert to prevent condensation from dripping on the crew and to eliminate electrical ground faults - two problems that plague metal hulled submersibles
  • A large digital display that streams a live feed from multiple exterior 4K cameras and also acts as a door to the aft equipment bay
  • Acoustic modem for text-based communication between sub and surface ship
  • A proprietary steering control system using a standard Playstation® controller

Real-Time Hull Health Monitoring

Over the last 30 years, Real-Time Monitoring (RTM) systems have been implemented and trusted across various industries from civil structures like bridges and dams, to medical devices to aerospace. Real-time monitoring makes it possible to detect, locate, identify and quantify microscopic changes prior to a potential failure. The use of composite materials in aerospace has been consistently on the rise due to high strength, light weight, and resistance to fatigue. As new materials are introduced the need for reliable, real-time monitoring and diagnostics has become increasingly essential.

Inspired by the aerospace industry, OceanGate engineered an integrated real time health monitoring system making it possible for the pilot to monitor the integrity of the structure at all times. The RTM system is comprised of both acoustic sensors and strain gauges to monitor changes in both the carbon fiber and titanium components. Titan is the first and only manned submersible to employ this type of real-time hull health monitoring system. We believe RTM is the future of manned submersibles and should be integrated as standard safety equipment for all submersibles.

Real-time monitoring makes it possible to detect the effects of changing pressure on the vessel as the submersible dives deeper, and accurately assess and predicts the health of the structure. Nine acoustic sensors and eighteen strain gauges are co-located throughout the entire pressure boundary within the vessel. The acoustic sensors are engineered to detect the narrow band of frequencies emitted by resin and carbon fiber separation and dislocations. This onboard health analysis system provides reliable early warning of an impending failure to the pilot with ample time to arrest the descent and safely return to the surface.

OceanGate has conducted a series of test to validate real-time hull health monitoring. On one of the tests, Boeing supported us with a system they have used for years to monitor acoustic emissions from carbon fiber samples. The system they use is an industry standard but is large, power hungry, and very expensive. What we require for our system is something that can be installed inside the sub while diving so it must be small and with low power consumption. In addition, our acoustic monitoring system needed to be relatively inexpensive especially since we planned to destroy the system during Test 4. The system we created meets all of these requirements.

Real-Time Hull Health Monitoring and Carbon Fiber Pressure Vessel Testing

Throughout the entire project, safety has remained paramount. As the hull design was being developed the OceanGate team worked with contributing partners at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics lab and Spencer Composites to build a one-third scale model to test the strength of the hull as well as validate the accuracy of the real-time monitoring system. Over a series of four pressure tests on the scale model and additional static tests on the full-sized vessel our team is satisfied with the accuracy of the real-time acoustic monitoring system and the strength and safety of the carbon fiber hull.

The objective of the scale model pressure tests was to validate that a carbon fiber pressure vessel is capable of withstanding an external pressure of 6,000 psi -- corresponding to operating in the ocean at a depth of about 4,200 meters (13,800 feet). See chart below for other pressure-to-depth comparisons.

OceanGate Capabilities

Site Survey and Inspection 

Conduct continuous and extensive site surveys to inspect underwater infrastructure, wrecks or sensitive environmental habitats without resurfacing.

Research and Data Collection 

Collect research data in real-time with first-hand views, onboard collaboration and the flexibility to modify your mission profile while still on site.

Film and Media Production 

The ultimate stage to film the treasures of the deep in a highly adaptive vessel designed to illuminate the depths, capture vibrant images and document natural habitat.

Deep Sea Testing Platform 

A unique underwater testing platform to conduct a wide array of experiments to test equipment or expedite sensitive research in deep ocean environments.