The deepest diving submarines are also called Deep Submergence Vehicles (DSV). Most of them are designed to go deep for scientific research purposes. The deepest dive was made by the bathyscaphe Trieste, reaching a depth of 10,900 meters (35,761 ft).
Submarine Depth Capability: the Trieste
The Trieste made that record setting dive on January 1960 in the Mariana Trench. The Trieste is 59 ft 6 in (18.14 m) long with a beam measuring 11 ft 6 in (3.51 m). The draft is 18 ft 6 in (5.64 m) and the displacement is 50 long tons (51 t).
The vehicle was first launched on August 26, 1953 and bought by the US Navy on 1958. It was decommissioned in 1966 and is now kept in the U.S. Navy Museum. The dive on January 1960 was done with a crew of two, Jacques Piccard and Lt Don Walsh.
Submarine Depth Capability: Trieste II
The Trieste II was tested to a depth of up to 20,000 ft (6,100 m). It has a displacement of 46 long tons (47 t) and a beam measuring 15 ft (4.6 m). The overall length is 67 ft (20 m) and the draft is 12 ft 5 in (3.78 m).
The DSV was built by the Mare Island Naval Shipyard and finished in 1964. The Trieste II began service on September 1, 1969 up to 1980.The Trieste II was headed by Lt Comdr. John B. Mooney, Jr and Capt. Frank Andrews. It is currently kept in the Naval Undersea Museum.
Submarine Depth Capability: Alvin (DSV-2)
The Alvin can go to a depth of 4500 meters (15,000 ft). It weighs 16 tons and has a hatch measuring 0.6 meters (about 2 ft). The DSV was constructed by General Mills’ Electronics Group and commissioned on June 5, 1964.
Today the submarine is owned by the US Navy. It is used by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for scientific research. To date the submarine has taken over 11,000 people on more than 4,000 deep sea dives.
Most of the research has been on organisms that flourish in the deep seas. More than 2,000 scientific papers have been written as a result.
Submarine Depth Capability: DSV-4 Sea Cliff
The DSV-4 was designed to reach a depth of 6500 feet (2000 m), but it was redesigned so that it could go as deep as 20,000 feet. The Sea Cliff weighs 25 tons and is currently owned by the US Navy. It is part of the Alvin class DSV and was decommissioned in 1998. However it was reactivated on September 30, 2002.
The submarine has a hatch measuring 24” in diameter. The Sea Cliff can go 5,000 ft deeper than the Alvin but the super class Alvin can go down to 22,000 ft. Other vehicles in the Alvin class DSV are the Alvin DSV-3, Turtle (DSV-3) and the Nemo (DSV-5).
With so much of the Earth’s oceans still unexplored, expect submarine depth capability to improve even more. They are also of course, used by the military for various operations.