Film-maker and explorer hands one-man craft that plunged him to Pacific Ocean’s deepest point to oceanographic institute
James Cameron has donated the one-man submarine within which he descended to the bottom of the planet’s deepest chasm last year to the largest independent oceanographic research institution in the USA.
The Oscar-winning director of Titanic and Avatar will hand over the Deepsea Challenger sub to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in an announcement timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of his historic dive into the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench. WHOI will use the submarine’s technological advances in the organisation’s ongoing efforts to build new and ever-more-effective deep-sea research vehicles.
“The seven years we spent designing and building the Deepsea Challenger were dedicated to expanding the options available to deep-ocean researchers,” said Cameron in a joint statement. “Our sub is a scientific proof-of-concept, and our partnership with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a way to provide the technology we developed to the oceanographic community.”
He added: “WHOI is a world leader in deep submergence, both manned and unmanned. I’ve been informally associated with WHOI for more than 20 years, and I welcome this opportunity to formalise the relationship with the transfer of the Deepsea Challenger submersible system and science platform. WHOI is a place where the Deepsea Challenger system will be a living, breathing and dynamic programme going forward.”
“Jim’s record-breaking dive was inspirational and helped shine a spotlight on the importance of the deep ocean,” said Susan Avery, president and director of WHOI. “We face many challenges in our relationship with the ocean, so there is heightened urgency to implement innovative approaches. Partnerships such as this one represent a new paradigm and will accelerate the progress of ocean science and technology development.”
Cameron’s dive last year saw him travel directly downwards for two hours and 36 minutes in an expedition inspired by the same fascination for ocean exploration that fed into his films Titanic and The Abyss. Only two people had made the dive before: Don Walsh, a US navy submariner, and Jacques Piccard, a Swiss engineer, who took the plunge to the fissure in their bathyscaphe the Trieste in 1960.
WHOI recently launched the Centre for Marine Robotics to advance exploration of the oceans, and Cameron will serve on the new body’s advisory board as part of the agreement to hand over the Deepsea Challenger. The submarine will be delivered to the institution, which is based on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, in time for early summer.