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Submersible Pilot Project Gives Public Access to the Deep

noctiluca sub title

The Noctiluca publicly-funded submersible (Photo: Community Submersibles Project)

Exploring the ocean in manned submersibles is usually an experience afforded only to government agencies and industry giants, or at least the very affluent, with a price tag of anywhere between $1million and $30million per trip. The Berkeley, California, based Community Submersibles Project (CSP), headed up by marine scientist Shanee Stopnitzky, however, is hoping to change this.

The CSP has launched a crowdfunding campaign with the aim of giving the average citizen access to deep-sea exploration. The initiative aims to grow a 'Society of Wonderers' by equipping them with the skills and vehicles to awaken public interest in exploring and, ultimately, caring for our deeper realms.

'Earth is a stupid name for an ocean planet,' said Graham Hawkes, renowned ocean engineer and inventor of a significant percentage of the world's manned submersibles, who is collaborating with the CSP. '71 per cent of the planet is ocean and 95 per cent of it remains unexplored,' said Hawkes. 'If humans don’t understand two-thirds of our own planet, how can we hope to manage it?'

noctiluca sub interior

The Noctiluca's interior (Photo: Community Submersibles Project)

The team says that it 'works to ensure that minimum environmental impact and the highest standards of safety are its utmost priority'.  The multistage pilot program, which the team states is modelled after rigorous aviation training courses, is designed with the aim of allowing more people to engage in ocean exploration as safely as possible. Students start with an online curriculum covering the fundamentals of submersible mechanics, operation and piloting, and then undergo extensive simulations of routine and emergency submersible protocols during checkout dives, in order to earn full certifications.

CSP currently operates two submersibles in the San Francisco Bay Area: Noctiluca, a 32ft/9.75m diesel-electric sub that can dive to 300ft/91m, and Fangtooth, an 11ft/3.4m electric sub that can dive to 30ft/9m. Both are scheduled to be refitted for deeper diving and newer onboard technology. In doing so, CSP hopes to be a model 'community node' that can be replicated through a network of privately-owned submersibles around the world.

fangtooth sub

The team working on the Fangtooth (above) and a young pilot-in-training (below) (Photo: Community Submersibles Project)

fangtooth pilot

The crowdfunding campaign ends on 28 June. According to a 25 June press release, the CSP campaign 'offers the public a unique opportunity to build a new open-ocean model for exploration. Backers will help make submersible experiences accessible to all and create safe pathways for exploring the deep. Reward tiers run from cool original CAD drawings of Noctiluca, to 3D models to print your own sub, the plans/kit for the Sea Rocket (an autonomous ocean data collection probe designed by Hawkes), exclusive access to educational lecture series, and full pilot certification with firsthand submersible experiences.'

The Kickstarter campaign is available at this link. For more information on the CSP project, visit the website at www.communitysubs.com, or find them on Instagram at community_submersibles, Facebook at Community Submersibles Project, and Twitter @communitysub


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