$50 million sub will go as deep as Cameron's

March 26, 2012 10:38:47 PM PDT
No one watched James Cameron's historic descent seven miles down into the Mariana Trench with more interest and excitement than the scientists and engineers at Alameda's DOER Marine.

"We're thrilled to see this effort take place and of course at his success. As we often say in the submersible world, it's only the round trips that count," said DOER President Liz Taylor.

DOER designs and builds subsea robotics and submersible systems, including the Deep Search project, a $50 million sub that will be able to go as deep as Cameron's, but will carry two or three people, instead of one.

"So we're really giving them the luxury of time under water. Anytime you have a submersible, that's one of the main goals, that it's providing scientists and observers with that luxury of time. It's one atmosphere, there's no decompression, so they're able to spend five, six, seven, eight hours at a time at depths they'd never be able to reach otherwise," said Taylor.

The DOER vessel has a robotic arm similar to the one on Cameron's vehicle, which is designed to scoop up marine life and rock samples and withstand the incredible pressures at the bottom of the sea.

Tony Lawson, DOER engineering director, said: "It's a simple five-function arm -- jaw, rotate, got an elbow, shoulder and a slough."

At the heart of all this engineering and science, there is a deep appreciation for the ocean and the vast expanse of it we know so little about.

"It's really high time that we think about the ocean. Everybody looks at the surface, they don't think about what's below -- this huge three-dimensional environment," Taylor said.

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