Enchantment under the sea: Richard Branson launches Virgin Oceanic deep-sea explorer

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Jules Verne would be proud of Richard Branson’s latest venture: the Virgin Oceanic submarine.

The project aims to explore “the last frontiers of our own Blue Planet: the very bottom of our seas”. Google is even involved with its mapping technology:

“Using their mapping technology, Google hopes to chronicle the dives as they happen and share discoveries, footage and record breaking achievements with the world” Richard Branson said in a statement.

Along with explorer Chris Welsh, Branson intends to take a solo piloted submarine to the deepest points in each of the world’s five oceans. It is the first time anyone has ever attempted to do this. It includes diving into the 36,201ft deep Mariana Trench, and the 28,232ft deep Puerto Rico Trench.

Unreached depths
It may not be possible to go this deep – and if Branson is successful there is no way of knowing what is down there. Millions of year’s worth of biological “soup” is expected to be the bottom of these deep trenches though.

Branson’s submarine utilises the latest in composite technology, including a unique wing to “fly” within the Ocean environment.

Branson said:

“What if I were to tell you about a planet, inhabited by ‘intelligent’ beings that had, in the 21st Century, physically explored 0% of its deepest points and mapped only 3% of its oceans by unmanned craft, when 70% of that planet’s surface was made up of water. Then I tried to convince you that only 10% of the life forms inhabiting that unknown world, are known to those on the surface – you’d think I’d fallen asleep watching the latest sci-fi blockbuster! Then you discover that planet is Earth…”

Well we can’t have that can we! Bon Voyage, Sir Richard!

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