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Chinese Submersible Planning For Record Dive

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the under-miles-of-water dept.

China 69

An anonymous reader writes "You may have heard that China sent a manned research sub down to the ocean deep this summer, marking a personal depth record of 5,000 meters (next year it will aim for a world record of 7,000 meters). Here's a story about the sub based on an interview with its designer in Wuxi, China. It's got some interesting new details: the designer had never actually seen a submersible before he set out to build the deepest diving research sub in the world; all the stuff he's built before has ended up in warehouses because the Chinese government only funded technological development, not use."

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First Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37286542)

FTW

A little late ... (4, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 years ago | (#37286552)

he set out to build the deepest diving research sub in the world;

Someone should point out that he's a few years late to the race, Trieste did it in the 60s. The record is almost 11k meters in my world, not sure what they are talking about at 7k

I guess perhaps we have completely different definition of 'research' or something.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathyscaphe_Trieste [wikipedia.org]

Re:A little late ... (5, Informative)

FhnuZoag (875558) | about 3 years ago | (#37286682)

Well, the wikipedia for the Shinkai 6500 (whose record these guys are specifically trying to beat) explains: "The only manned expedition to have gone deeper was the dive of the Trieste bathyscaphe in 1960. However, the vessel could not navigate along the bottom of the sea bed." So that's the difference.

Re:A little late ... (2)

jpmorgan (517966) | about 3 years ago | (#37287482)

Except, the Trieste could. It wasn't fast: only 4hp with a maximum speed of 1 knot, but it still could.

Re:A little late ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37289256)

Well the Chinese submersible may not make it. I here that by design, there will be a chink in the pressure containment vessel.

Re:A little late ... (3, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 years ago | (#37289550)

You should actually look up the Trieste and get some factual information.

It most certainly could navigate on its own, and did. Do you think the propulsion system built on it was there for looks? Like spoilers on a Toyota Camry or something? The Trieste was used to hunt for the USS Thresher submarine after it was lost ... do you think they just sunk to the bottom, looked around in the 10 square meters of ocean floor they could view, rose back to the surface, had someone drag them over a few meters and did it all over again ... with no station keeping to actually make sure they weren't drifting on the way down and actually looking at the same spot?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Thresher_(SSN-593) [wikipedia.org]

And to counter some of the other statements being made, the Trieste was not attached to a surface ship during its dive, only when it was taken off the deck of the surface ship and lowered into the water, and then again when it was picked up and put back on the surface ship. At all times while it was submerged Trieste was completely on its own power, life support and navigation. Should it have 'sunk', they would not be able to 'reel it in' as it wasn't connected.

From the link I pasted originally:

The Trieste consisted of a float chamber filled with gasoline for buoyancy, with a separate pressure sphere. This configuration (dubbed a bathyscaphe by the Piccards), allowed for a free dive, rather than the previous bathysphere designs in which a sphere was lowered to depth and raised from a ship by cable.

Sorry Chinese dudes, the record will always be held by a little Belgium built ship named Trieste, occupied by its designer and an American Navy officer. Unless they find a new deep spot in the ocean or an unexplored cave, both of which are highly unlikely.

Re:A little late ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37290812)

Sorry Chinese dudes, the record will always be held by a little Belgium built ship named Trieste, occupied by its designer and an American Navy officer.

Agreed. Except the thing was Italian built, as pointed out in the linked Wikipedia article.

Re:A little late ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37298226)

To be accurate, it was Belgium designed, Italian built, German upgraded, American tuned and retrofitted.

West - fuck yeah!

Re:A little late ... (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 3 years ago | (#37291852)

It's counterproductive to design a research sub with the capability to dive past about 6500 meters (which the Shinkai 6500 can do). That's deep enough to reach about 98% of the ocean's floor [mnn.com] . Anything significantly beyond that and you're adding excess weight and strength which will only be useful if you've visiting a few trenches. For studying the rest of the ocean, it's just useless baggage. You're better off designing one general-purpose DSV for research in the majority of the ocean, and another one specially-made to be stronger for researching trenches.

Re:A little late ... (1)

Shoten (260439) | about 3 years ago | (#37286722)

Haven't you heard? The Chinese have mandated a new industry standard for "meters"; companies that fail to establish interoperability with the new standard will be barred from doing business in China :)

And anyways, it seems to me that the record shouldn't be for how deep you dive...but from how deep you manage to make it back up...anyone can get to the bottom of the Marianas Trench...it's easy! {straps on weights and jumps over the side of the boat to prove his point}

Re:A little late ... (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about 3 years ago | (#37286734)

I think the difference is between the nature of a bathyscaphe vs. a full-fledged submarine. Presumably is doesn't have to be tied to anything to operate and will have greater ability for independent motion. So, yes, they won't be the first people to reach the depth, but will be the first people to reach that depth in the specific manner inherent to the device used.

Re:A little late ... (1)

roothog (635998) | about 3 years ago | (#37286818)

A bathyscaphe isn't tethered to anything either. (You're thinking of a bathysphere.)

Re:A little late ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37286946)

Correct:

The Trieste consisted of a float chamber filled with gasoline for buoyancy, with a separate pressure sphere. This configuration (dubbed a bathyscaphe by the Piccards), allowed for a free dive, rather than the previous bathysphere designs in which a sphere was lowered to depth and raised from a ship by cable

In other news.. (1)

Moraelin (679338) | about 3 years ago | (#37287014)

In other news, after the accusations of using Top Gun footage to demonstrate the supposed Chinese super-plane, the Xinhua News Agency is rumoured to be already working on excuses for why their submarine newscasts look suspiciously like something from The Hunt For Red October. Several party spokespersons are rumored to be practicing in advance saying "No, it's not like that, captain Wang Hung Lo just happens to look exactly like Sean Connery" with a straight face ;)

Re:In other news.. (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 3 years ago | (#37287914)

Well done sir, well done!

Re:A little late ... (1)

tokul (682258) | about 3 years ago | (#37287038)

I guess perhaps we have completely different definition of 'research' or something.

It is about navigation at max depth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DSV_Shinkai_6500 [wikipedia.org]

Re:A little late ... (2, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 years ago | (#37287056)

The difference is that it's a bathyscaphe, not a submarine. A bathyscaphe is basically loaded down with weights to reach the bottom, then drops the weights to rise back up. It can't control its buoyancy by adjusting pressure tanks - it's simply straight down, straight up. So yeah, they're way too late to set any records for first people to go that deep but it's still something not done before.

Re:A little late ... (1)

jpmorgan (517966) | about 3 years ago | (#37288392)

"Bathyscaphe" is just another word for a very deep sea submarine. Here is how DSV Alvin's ballast works:

The 4 sets of steel weights that are added to the submersible before each dive are known as "fixed buoyancy points." Once on the bottom, the pilot "drops" a predetermined amount of weight (1, 2, or 3 sets) in an attempt to achieve neutral buoyancy. Each of these weight sets provide a 208-lb. "step" in buoyancy.

This is where the variable ballast system comes into play. Unlike the main ballast, the tanks of the variable ballast system are independent of the outside pressure, which, at 2500m (8250ft) equals 3695psi (pounds per square inch) or 230 atmospheres (pressure at the surface is 14.7 psi or 1 atmosphere). The pilot can "fine-tune" the submersible to achieve and maintain neutral buoyancy during the dive by adjusting the amount of water in the variable ballast tanks. The amount of water in the variable ballast can be adjusted in 1-lb. increments to allow for buoyancy corrections between the 208-lb. "steps" of the steel weights. In particular, as the dive progresses, the submersible gets colder and "shrinks"; therefore, although it weighs the same, the "smaller" submersible displaces less water and becomes negatively buoyant. Removing water from the variable ballast tanks corrects this displacement and allows the submersible to remain neutral.

To leave the bottom at the end of the dive, the pilot releases the remaining sets of steel weights. This causes the submersible to become positively buoyant; it floats upward. As the submersible nears the surface, the pilot can "blow" air into the main ballast tanks to "add" buoyancy and aid in the ascent.

http://www.marinetech.org/nine_degrees/expedition.php?phase=log&date=942912000&base=expo942864462&picnum=0#ballast [marinetech.org]

As a general rule ultra-deep sea submarines don't use the kind of air-vented ballast tanks you're thinking of because the pressure is too great at the bottom. You put an ordinary pressure cylinder on board and instead of air rushing out, the water will rush in when you open the valve on the bottom. You try to put enough pressure in the tank to overcome that and it'll explode on the surface. So you build the tank strong enough to resist the pressure and it's so massive that you have to quadruple the size of the submarine with fixed floatation just to overcome the weight of all that extra metal.

It just makes no sense to design a deep sea submarine that way, and there's no mention in any of the linked articles that this Chinese sub is designed to operate in that manner. It likely works just like Alvin and the Trieste.

Re:A little late ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37290994)

"Bathyscaphe" is just another word for a very deep sea submarine.

No they are not. In a Bathyscaphe, I can reach the bottom, and one the way back to surface, if I decide I need to dive again, I cannot do that. A submarine can.

Re:A little late ... (1)

Habberhead (178825) | about 3 years ago | (#37287082)

There is a comment after the story about this:

Trieste was a bathyscape--it was lowered on a cable from a ship and brought back up.

Jiaolong, Shinkai and Alvin are all free-diving submersibles.

Re:A little late ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37288900)

Trieste was a bathyscape--it was lowered on a cable from a ship and brought back up.

Only if you mean "the ship used a crane to move the Trieste from the deck to the water and back again." Aside from that, the Trieste was untethered.

Re:A little late ... (1)

fnj (64210) | about 3 years ago | (#37289458)

Wrong. A bathysphere is lowered on a cable. A bathyscaphe (sp) is free diving and navigable.

Re:A little late ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37287094)

It is "personal" record aka PR as used in athletics. My "personal" record for a 10k road race is ~45 min while the word record is ~26 min.

Re:A little late ... (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | about 3 years ago | (#37287248)

The 5000m is a personal record, but the summary claims that the 7000m dive will be a world record. This is what the GP is questioning....

Re:A little late ... (1)

divisionbyzero (300681) | about 3 years ago | (#37287578)

he set out to build the deepest diving research sub in the world;

Someone should point out that he's a few years late to the race, Trieste did it in the 60s. The record is almost 11k meters in my world, not sure what they are talking about at 7k

I guess perhaps we have completely different definition of 'research' or something.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathyscaphe_Trieste [wikipedia.org]

So, more Chinese propaganda or is the author so stupid they couldn't use google or both?

Re:A little late ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37288088)

Google is illegal in China. They don't know any better.

Deepest Operational Sub (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 3 years ago | (#37289284)

In all of the articles that I have read, it has always been referred to as the deepest operational sub. Key word being operational.
Trieste’s bathyscaphe did go deeper – but it’s not operational any more.
The China’s sub should be able to dive deeper then Alvin – which is currently the deepest diving sub that is operational. I think Alvin II is coming out in a few years – but even that one is not designed to go as deep.

Talk about sitting on one’s laurels.

Re:Deepest Operational Sub is the Archimedes (1)

findoutmoretoday (1475299) | about 3 years ago | (#37291638)

Archimede (9,300 m), as of 2008, it is on operational reserve, at Toulon

Manned Submersible Deep Dive Record (3)

decipher_saint (72686) | about 3 years ago | (#37286578)

Was set by the Trieste on January 23, 1960 at a depth of 10,911 meters (35,797 ft).

Re:Manned Submersible Deep Dive Record (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37286596)

Did it come back up?

Re:Manned Submersible Deep Dive Record (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 years ago | (#37286714)

typical geek, obsessing over petty technical details while ignoring the big picture of a depth record. heck, you'd probably whine if the crew died half-way down.

Re:Manned Submersible Deep Dive Record (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 years ago | (#37286784)

Uhm, yes.

Re:Manned Submersible Deep Dive Record (2)

afidel (530433) | about 3 years ago | (#37287078)

In fact it's in the US Navy Museum in Washington DC (which is right next to the old NCIS headquarters so you can see the museum on the show of the same name when they do real onsite shots).

Re:Manned Submersible Deep Dive Record (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | about 3 years ago | (#37286972)

Did it come back up?

Yes.

Re:Manned Submersible Deep Dive Record (1)

donscarletti (569232) | about 3 years ago | (#37287184)

Trieste was kind of like a big tank of petrol with a sphere at the bottom called a "bathyscaphe", while technically a self-propelled submersible, it was extremely limited in thrust and manoeuvrability due to huge bulk and extremely limited room for power plant, control surfaces etc. In fact, it pretty much limited to going down then up. Currently the deepest diving real submersible is Shinkai 6500, which true to its name, can dive to 6500m, explore the ocean floor under its own power for a week or so and ascend. This submersible aims to go deeper still.

Re:Manned Submersible Deep Dive Record (1)

Syberz (1170343) | about 3 years ago | (#37287502)

The Trieste wasn't autonomous however, it was a batiscaphe that was lowered and raised on a cable. The Shinkai and the chinese sub are actual submarines that can move on their own at the bottom.

Re:Manned Submersible Deep Dive Record (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37287678)

it was a batiscaphe that was lowered and raised on a cable.

You are wrong both in spelling and in technical description.

Re:Manned Submersible Deep Dive Record (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37287680)

Wrong. You're thinking of a bathysphere.

From Wikipedia:

A bathyscaphe is a free-diving self-propelled deep-sea submersible, consisting of a crew cabin similar to a bathysphere, but suspended below a float rather than from a surface cable, as in the classic bathysphere design.

Re:Manned Submersible Deep Dive Record (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 3 years ago | (#37289086)

The Trieste wasn't autonomous however, it was a batiscaphe that was lowered and raised on a cable.

Umm, no. Trieste was lowered into the water from its tender by a cable, but the cable was released before it dove. Hence the need for a sonar/hydrophone voice system to communicate with the surface, rather than a telephone line in the (nonexistent) cable.

The Shinkai and the chinese sub are actual submarines that can move on their own at the bottom.

Sort of like the Trieste, you mean? Which could move at (the admittedly low speed of) 1 knot.

Perhaps it was the lifesystem hanging under the hull (where the crew could see things) that fooled you into thinking it wasn't really a submarine?

given the Chinese track-record for safety (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37286612)

I would not want to be the pilot of this vehicle

Re:given the Chinese track-record for safety (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 years ago | (#37286836)

I would not want to be the pilot of this vehicle

I sure would. OTOH, manned research to the deeps is probably the wrong way to go. We have lots of experience with unmanned ROVs and their capabilities are pretty impressive (watch the Macondo spill tapes on YouTube). Spending the money to put meat Popsicles down at the bottom is pretty much grandstanding.

I wonder how much of the Chinese sub is really Chinese or if there are lots of off the shelf parts. There is a large industrial base for deep water ROV bits and pieces, most of which are American (Go USA!). While there is utility in learning how to put all the parts together to survive at those depths, the real engineering is building the technology in the first place.

But 11 years gives you some lead time to learn lots and lots of things. Maybe we can send copies of IEEE Spectrum to the Tea Party / Libertarian YoYos in Congress and show them what they're up against.

What world record? (1)

Lando (9348) | about 3 years ago | (#37286660)

World record set by Chinese government? http://geology.com/records/bathyscaphe-trieste.shtml [geology.com]

Re:What world record? (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | about 3 years ago | (#37286694)

To be fair, it's a personal depth record of that particular submersible.

Still, pretty cool, lots of stuff to see down there still I bet.

Re:What world record? (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | about 3 years ago | (#37286728)


To be fair, it's a personal depth record of that particular submersible.

The Titanic set a depth record for that particular ship as well.

Re:What world record? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37287842)

Too soon man....

Re:What world record? (1)

roothog (635998) | about 3 years ago | (#37286806)

Well, the summary also references breaking a "world record" of 7000m, which isn't at all accurate.

Re:What world record? (1)

Lando (9348) | about 3 years ago | (#37287008)

It appears to have come from TFA which is slightly misleading. I think the article should have been a little more clear in that It appears it will be the deepest current commercial vehicle in operation. The trieste was owned by the US government for governmental purposes and not for commercial purposes as this vehicle is, ie the search for mineral exploration. Still that being the case, the article itself seems to be very misleading.

Re:What world record? (1)

Lando (9348) | about 3 years ago | (#37286702)

Oh, yeah I believe everything he has done has been so fantastic in the past that the government had to hide it, oops my bad, mothballed it because it was research not production.

Re:What world record? (1)

Lando (9348) | about 3 years ago | (#37286880)

And just to throw more wood on the fire, James Cameron is planning to go to the bottom of the see as well. Now, if it were just some random bloke, I might say yeah right, but seeing as he actually done things like going to the Titanic to look around, I'm a bit more inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt than some random national propaganda piece with credentials as impeccable as having fantastic designs that worked but where never used.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1312406/Into-deadly-deep-How-James-Cameron-plans-film-Avatar-sequel-7-miles-seas-surface.html [dailymail.co.uk]

Re:What world record? (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | about 3 years ago | (#37286990)

And just to throw more wood on the fire, James Cameron is planning to go to the bottom of the see as well.

See what?

Re:What world record? (1)

Lando (9348) | about 3 years ago | (#37289358)

Let's try ocean, perhaps I can't misspell that.

The record can't be beat... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37286674)

Unless they're lucky enough to find something deeper than the Challenger Deep, or are ready to head into caves, they can't beat the record because somebody has already been to the deepest part of the ocean floor.

Re:The record can't be beat... (1)

mrsurb (1484303) | about 3 years ago | (#37289534)

Until we raise the sea level through global warming...

Damn twerps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37286810)

Only twerps use linux and you don't want to be a twerp do you?

in dire need of self assurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37286854)

serious self esteem problem, the PRC felt the compelling need to label everything as their own, evident by the dire need to plant their flags every where they've been (if if the feat has done 50+ years ago.)

This is why it is a record (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37286888)

Trieste was a bathyscape--it was lowered on a cable from a ship and brought back up. Jiaolong, Shinkai and Alvin are all free-diving submersibles.

Re:This is why it is a record (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 3 years ago | (#37286926)

Wrong a bathyscape is free driving. You are thinking of a bathysphere.

Re:This is why it is a record (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37288000)

>> You are thinking of a bathysphere.

Actually, I was thinking of sex, but I'll divert my attention for a moment.

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37286996)

not a lot of details, but if this thing can maneuver, and not just plummet like a rock then it will be of more use than this Trieste bs everyone seems to be quoting. That thing was designed half a century ago with ancient methods of manufacture and material. Do you really think they can't do better now? My question is why is China doing this and not someone else?

Deepest you can go on a recreational Sub 2,600' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37287706)

Check this guy out: http://www.stanleysubmarines.com/ designed and built his own sub and dosent have a engineering background. Pretty crazy, but he has 800+ dives so I guess it works. Would you ride down in it?

Dead Chinese submariners in 3.. 2.. 1.. (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about 3 years ago | (#37287900)

Do I really need to say more? We all know this is how it's going to end. Either that, or it's all a complete fiction; there's precedent for that, too.

First man on the bottom of the sea. (1)

formfeed (703859) | about 3 years ago | (#37288654)

Chinese might not be the first to put a man on the moon, but they might be the first to put a man on the bottom of the sea
- Wait.. No, the Italians beat them to it.

I hope they have backup. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37288894)

If you build a sub that dives to record breaking depths I would personally build two or three even if it is expensive.

Why? If the sub breaks down and they can't go up for some reason then who can rescue them in time? Blub, blub, blub--*implode*!

Re:I hope they have backup. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37289060)

If you build a sub that dives to record breaking depths I would personally build two or three even if it is expensive.

Why? If the sub breaks down and they can't go up for some reason then who can rescue them in time? Blub, blub, blub--*implode*!

Many pioneers in exploration had no rescue option (Apollo landings, the first dive to the deep, etc). Sometimes you just have to take a risk.

bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37292648)

Hey can i call bullshit on this story and its like.

china has no working aircraft carrier...

when i'm in china this fall, bitch is still a bitch even in conversational english

Triumph (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37300796)

Shows that capital is all that's required for advancement, not approval by government or educational gatekeepers. The systems and the lawyers they support that restrict the raising of capital to the rich should be assassinated.

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