A commercial submarine operator is teaming up with the University of Washington to build a new, manned deep sea sub. The five passenger mini-sub could be available for charter by oil companies or researchers beginning in 2016.
Seattle-based OceanGate Inc. currently operates two small submarines for hire. It sees a market for deeper diving manned submersibles. To that end, the small company has partnered with the University of Washington and Boeing to design a stubby, bullet shaped mini-sub with a 180 degree viewing dome in its nose.
OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush says this will be "the first deep manned" sub with a hull made out of carbon fiber and thick glass.
"We anticipate making several of these vehicles," Rush says. "They will have different configurations for different applications. But that will all entail the same kind of carbon fiber hull."
He says the biggest target sector is the oil are gas industry. Others users could include the military, deep sea miners and academic researchers.
But it won't come cheap. Rush says the cost to charter the mini-sub could average $35,000 a day.
Specs published by OceanGate indicate the initial model is being designed to be capable of descending nearly two miles -- three kilometers -- beneath the waves.
Rush says his company still needs to recruit additional investors to fund construction.
This was first reported by the Northwest News Network.