First-ever crewed dive into Atacama Trench
Caladan Oceanic conducted the first-ever crewed dive to the deepest point of the Atacama Trench (Peru-Chile), the deepest trench in the southeastern Pacific. The maximum depth recorded at the Atacama Trench's lowest point was 8,069m.
On 21 January 2022, two men dived the first-ever crewed dive to the deepest point of the Atacama Trench, the deepest trench in the southeastern Pacific.
This feat saw explorer Victor Vescovo, Founder of Caladan Oceanic, and Osvaldo Ulloa from Instituto Milenio de Oceanografia (IMO) descending to 8,069m below sea level, in the submersible Limiting Factor. This dive was the first in the Chilean leg of the Ring of Fire Pt 2 (2022) expedition.
Vescovo described the experience as a great privilege to pilot the first human descent to the bottom of the Atacama Trench with Dr Ulloa: “Being able to glide along the seafloor for three hours, personally investigating interesting points with someone who has studied the area for much of their career, was just fantastic.”
“Together we witnessed some amazing evidence of what appears to be more examples of chemosynthesis in the world’s deep ocean trenches. Here, however, we saw long bacterial tendrils coming off of rock faces that never see any sunlight, and obtain their energy from the minerals and gases seeping from the rocks, surrounded by a freezing seawater environment. Just extraordinary,” he added.
The expedition’s objective was to conduct extensive bathymetric mapping of the seafloor in the exploration area and to collect samples at various depths of the trench. By mapping the seafloor, it would be possible to determine where to install sensors for IMO’s future IDOOS (Integrated Deep Ocean Observing System) project.
This project would establish the first observation system anchored in the deep ocean along Chile’s coast to study the structure and temporal variability of the area’s physical geochemical and biological conditions.
Subsequent missions include warship search expeditions to the Midway and Samar oceanic battlefields, the first-ever human-occupied dives to the bottom of the Yap and Palau trenches, a scientific dive to the deepest point of the ocean, Challenger Deep, as well as dives to the Manila, Ryukyu, Izu-Ogasawara, Japan and Kuril-Kamchatka trenches in cooperation with key scientists from the Japan Agency for Marine Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC).
However, first things first.
Since March 2022, according to Vescovo's Twitter feed, both the expedition ship Pressure Drop and the Limiting Factor submersible have been undergoing refit and maintenance to prepare them for these upcoming missions. The expedition is expected to resume in April.
About Caladan Oceanic
Caladan Oceanic is a private company dedicated to the advancement of undersea technology and supporting expeditions to increase the understanding of the oceans. Founder Victor Vescovo, a former Commander in the US Navy, has long had a passion for exploration and has summited the highest peak on all seven of the world’s continents including Mount Everest, and skied at least 100km to both the North and South Poles.