One of the Founders Behind the Titan, the Submersible That Sank While Searching for the Titanic, Is Back With a New Submarine

  • The latest venture by one of the OceanGate founders aims to explore one of the deepest vertical caves on Earth.

  • While there are no specifics about the type of submersible they intend to use, the website says to “expect the unexpected.”

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Just a year ago, the world was united in anguish over the rescue mission of the five occupants of the Titan submersible, which was built by OceanGate to visit the wreck of the Titanic. While OceanGate Expeditions is already disbanded, one of its founders, Guillermo Söhnlein, is moving forward with new underwater exploration projects.

His new company, Blue Marble Exploration, is preparing for an underwater expedition to explore one of the largest blue holes in the world, estimated to be 663 feet deep.

New expedition in the Bahamas. Söhnlein founded OceanGate with Stockton Rush, who died in the Titan incident last year. Söhnlein left OceanGate in 2013 and founded a series of companies dedicated to pushing the limits of underwater and space exploration, with projects including sending a ship to the rings of Venus.

His latest venture involves sending a submarine to explore Dean’s Blue Hole, a massive 663-foot underwater well in the warm waters of the Bahamas. On its website, Blue Marble Exploration announces that those joining the expedition should “expect the unexpected.” However, considering what happened the last time a submersible attempted to visit the depths of the ocean , it’s unclear if that’s the best way to put it.

Mission details. Blue Marble Exploration hasn’t provided many details about the type of capsule that will be used in the dive, the materials it's constructed from, or the crew that will control it. The only details available so far are that it’ll be a manned submersible equipped with LED lights and underwater drone technology to explore the depths of the huge underwater cavern.

Although the characteristics of the new underwater adventure aren’t comparable to those of the Titan, it’s surprising that the company doesn’t offer any details on aspects such as the material it's using to build the submersible, especially considering that it this was one of the factors in disaster with OceanGate's submersible.

The (scarce) mission crew. According to its website, the exploration crew will be formed by Blue Marble Exploration’s own CEO, Söhnlein, as well as a scientific team leader and a medical director who will guide the expedition.

Something that’s also not mentioned on the company's site is the price of each ticket. In the case of the Titan expedition, each of its occupants paid about $250,000 for their place in the submersible, which reduced its audience to a very small group of millionaires.

Blue holes. Blue holes are vertical caves or submarine wells formed by water erosion about 15,000 years ago, during the glacial period in the Pleistocene. At that time, the sea level was between 330 and 660 feet below today’s sea level. As the sea level rose, these caves were flooded, maintaining their sinkhole structure and contrasting the rest of the seabed with a more intense blue color. This is how they got their name.

Dean’s Blue Hole is one of the deepest. It’s located in a bay west of Clarence Town on Long Island in the Bahamas archipelago. It has a depth of 663 feet and is about 115 feet in diameter, making it one of the deepest on the planet. Its competitors for the record include n the Sansha Yongle Blue Hole in China, which is 990 feet deep and 426 feet in diameter, and the recently discovered Tamm Ja’ Blue Hole in Mexico.

Dean’s Blue Hole is somewhat smaller, but it has thermal layers and undercurrents inside it. Experts suspect that these currents are due to openings in the walls of the cave that connect it to Atlantic waters. This, together with the lack of visibility due to the absence of light at these depths, could complicate exploration missions.

Image | Wikimedia Commons [R23jperry, Ton Engwirda]

Related | James Cameron Thinks He Knows What Really Happened With the Titanic Submersible, and It Doesn’t Make the Navy Look Good

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