China builds new manned submersible


China has a knack for naming their exploration vehicles. They gave the world the Shenzhou (or “divine vessels”) to reach outer space and the Taikonauts to fly them. Now China is planning an ocean exploration program ‘equally important’ to their space endeavours, including plans to build a sub-sea base station and a manned submersible capable of diving to 7000m by year 2010. So, how do you say “sea dragon” in Mandarin?

You can never have too many deep diving manned submersibles. Less than a dozen vessels I know of are capable of working beyond 1000m depth. Between the Chinese submersible, the Alvin, it’s replacement, the Russian MIRs, the French Nautile, and the Japanese Shinkai we’ll have maybe 6 manned submersibles capable of diving deep enough to explore ~90% of Earth’s seafloor as we enter the next decade. We need more.

The photo above shows the new submersible on display at the ninth China Hi-Tech Fair in October, 2007. Image from People’s Daily Online.

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

3 Replies to “China builds new manned submersible”

  1. How can I get a gig piloting it? My government (Canada) sold off all our manned submersibles (Pisces IV went to HURL in Hawaii), leaving with few choices :)

  2. It’s amazing how we know more about the surface of the moon then we do about the oceans depths. Considering how important the oceans are our global climate you’d think we’d have a lot better understanding of oceans rather than distant planets.

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