Update (5/21): Oceangate’s expedition to the Titanic has been rescheduled for next year. More info here.
OceanGate Inc., a provider of manned-submersible services, has launched Titan, formerly known as Cyclops 2 – the world’s only privately owned manned-submersible capable of reaching Titanic depths of 4000 meters.
Titan is comprised of two major components, a 5-man submersible and an integrated launch and recovery platform. The submersible will head to St. John’s, Newfoundland, in late June for the first manned expedition to the RMS Titanic since 2005.
To accomplish this expedition, OceanGate engineered and built Titan using advanced technology and materials, including:
- A filament wound carbon fiber hull – the largest of any manned submersible
- Two titanium hemispheres – the forward dome hinges to serve as the access hatch for easy entry and exit
- The largest viewport of any deep-sea manned submersible
- Electronics and thruster control pods housed outside the pressure hull to increase space available for crew and equipment onboard
- A fiberglass hull insert to prevent condensation from dripping on the crew and to eliminate electrical ground faults – two problems that plague metal hulled submersibles
- A large digital display that streams a live feed from multiple exterior 4K cameras and also acts as a door to the aft equipment bay
- Acoustic modem for text-based communication between sub and surface ship
- A proprietary steering control system using a standard PlayStation® controller
One of the most significant innovations is Titan’s proprietary real-time hull health monitoring system. Titan is the only known manned research submersible to employ an integrated real-time hull health monitoring system.
Utilizing nine acoustic sensors and eighteen strain gauges co-located throughout the pressure vessel boundary the real-time hull health monitoring system makes it possible to analyze the effects of changing pressure on the vessel as the submersible dives deeper and accurately assess the integrity of the structure. This onboard health analysis monitoring system provides early warning detection for the pilot with enough time to arrest the descent and safely return to surface.
“Safety is our number one priority,” said Stockton Rush, OceanGate CEO. “We believe real-time health monitoring should be standard safety equipment on all manned-submersibles.”
The real-time health monitoring system will make it possible for the team to take a methodical approach to live testing. During the deep-sea certification dives in the Bahamas, Stockton Rush will become the second person in history to dive solo to 4000 meters. These dives will validate the design depth and Titan’s maximum depth dive will be certified by an independent certification organization.