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Get ready to ‘Dive! Dive! Dive!’

During this expedition, you will learn what it takes to dive in a submersible. You will join the Nekton Mission crew as they undertake deep ocean research around the seamounts of Bermuda.

The Nekton team used two submersibles, Triton 1000/2s, which transported scientists down to depths of 1,000 feet. Each submersible has a life support system which can last up to 96 hours, although the team normally spent three to five hours underwater on each dive.

You will learn about some of the science and technology involved in exploring the deep, and get ready to ‘Dive! Dive! Dive!’.

This Expedition delivered the XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey. To find out more visit the Nekton Mission website.

We start our expedition safely on deck, to take you through some of the controls, features and safety features of the submersible. Operating in the deep ocean is fraught with danger. The pressure mounts as you dive down and you will be completely reliant on the life support systems provided by the submersible, so listen carefully.

Along the middle are three sets of important features and controls. At the top, the dials give readings for oxygen, depth and high pressure air, in the center panel are electrical controls including for air scrubbing system which removes carbon dioxide and between the seats are the ballast controls used for ascent and descent.

The submersible crew is made up of a pilot and a scientist. The scientist isn’t just a passenger, as if something happens to the pilot, they will have to navigate the submersible safely back to the surface. Now you have learned about some of the main features inside, we will take you through some of the exterior features and how to get the submersible into the water.

Along each side of submersible are the main ballast tanks, which control the ascent and descent of the submersible. Beneath these are large batteries supplying the power to the submersible for navigation, control, life support and science equipment.

The clear pressure hulls are made from acrylic, a type of plastic. Their transparent and spherical design mean that the crew have a 360-degree view when they are underwater, allowing for better observation of the underwater environment.

Before the submersible is allowed to dive, the pilot goes through a number of checks with the surface officer via radio. “Hatch is secure,” followed by “Life support systems are running.” The pilot then confirms, “Safety briefing complete.” The last statement before descent is, “Requesting permission to open vents and dive.” The surface officer will then reaffirm the checks and then say to the pilot, “You are cleared to dive, dive, dive.”

The hatch is secured tight. If the atmosphere in the pressure hull is contaminated and the pilot and passenger have to use an emergency regulator, additional pressure will build up internally in the pressure hull. The pilot sometimes then has to release the hatch lock near the surface during ascent, holding on tight, carefully release air pressure just for a second. This is known as ‘burping’.

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