Chinese submersible Jiaolong reaches record depths

July 27th, 2011 - 2:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 27 (IANS) Jiaolong, a Chinese deep-diving submersible, has successfully reached a depth of 5,038 meters in the Pacific Ocean, topping an earlier dive of 4,027 meters, a media report said Wednesday.

Jiaolong is designed to be the world’s deepest-diving submersible, said the Global Times. The latest dive was carried out Tuesday morning.

The manned submersible, which can descend at a speed of 40 meters per minute, spent over six hours underwater before returning to its mother ship Tuesday, the report said.

Ye Cong, Yang Bo and Fu Wentao made up the three-man crew. “If the weather allows, Jiaolong will have another test dive Wednesday,” an official of the State Oceanic Administration told Global Times.

Operational tests, originally scheduled to end in mid-August, involved taking photos, recording video, surveying the seabed, taking samples from the ocean floor and locating mineral resources.

The tests were also designed to train crewmembers to complete special missions, such as underwater high-definition video shooting, Xinhua said.

As the world’s first manned vehicle designed to dive up to 7,000 meters below sea level, Jiaolong will take on the challenge next year, Xinhua quoted Xu Qinan, chief designer of the submersible, as saying.

Equipped with advanced digital underwater communication and mobility systems, the homemade submersible can “move back and forth easily under the sea,” Xu said.

Launched in 2002, Jiaolong completed 17 dives in the South China Sea from May 31 to July 18 last year, reaching up to 3,759 meters.

China is the fifth country after the US, France, Russia and Japan, to be able to send a manned dive to deeper than 3,500 meters.

If China could send submersibles to 5,000 meters, it would mean it can reach over 70 percent of the world’s ocean floor, Xu added. While 7,000 meters will mean “an accessibility to 99.8 percent of the world’s sea bottom.”

“The significance of Jiaolong lies not only in the craft itself, but also the industrial ability China has - a giant industrial system supporting deep-sea operations, including research and training ability”, Beijing-based military expert Song Xiaojun noted.

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