A Chinese submersible carrying three men has touched down on the bottom of the Mariana Trench – the deepest part of the ocean – after diving 10,909 metres (35,790 feet), according to Chinese state media.
The Fendouzhe, or Striver, broke the country’s record for the deepest crewed dive yesterday after spending nearly four hours descending in the western Pacific Ocean, reported Beijing’s state broadcaster CCTV.
The expedition was set to help China explore the abundant natural resources in the deep sea by assisting scientists to draw a ‘treasure map’.
A screenshot of a news clip from China’s state broadcaster CCTV shows the Fendouzhe, or Striver, getting ready to dive into the Pacific to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench
The picture released by CCTV shows the three researchers aboard of the Fendouzhe each holding a food bowl after descending in the ocean for nearly four hours with the submersible
The Fendouzhe dived into the ocean at 8.20pm GMT on Monday and landed on the seabed at 12.12am GMT on Tuesday, CCTV said.
It stayed at the bottom of the trench for more than six hours to collect marine samples and document the surrounding landscape, the official news channel said.
Its journey is shy of the deepest-ever manned dive by 18 metres (59 feet).
The current world record is reportedly held by Victor Vescovo, an American explorer who claimed to have reached a depth of 10,927 meters (35,853 feet) in the Mariana Trench in May 2019.
Chinese engineers finished developing and assembling the Fendouzhe in February, having started on the project in 2016.
The watercraft completed 25 tasks during a three-month experiment from March to June, according to a previous CCTV report.
A CCTV news clip shows the Fendouzhe diving down the ocean in the record-breaking journey
A screen in the Fendouzhe’s control room shows the vessel has dived 10,909m (35,790ft)
After setting off with two motherships and an exploration team from southern China’s Sanya city on October 10, the vessel reportedly plunged 10,058 metres (32,998 feet) in an experiment on October 27 before achieving the latest feat.
Following the four-hour mission, the three researchers aboard sent back a group photo, which showed each of them holding a bowl of food.
Speaking to a CCTV reporter from the bottom of the Mariana Trench, one of them said: ‘All of us three are feeling very well, and we are currently testing the functions of the robotic arms.’
The explorer continued: ‘The bottom of the sea is incredible.’
The submersible is capable of filming its surroundings and gathering samples of the rocks, seawater, marine creatures and plants using its robotic arms.
Ye Cong, the chief engineer of the Fendouzhe, told CCTV: ‘It took [the Fendouzhe] less than 200 minutes to reach the bottom of the sea.
‘The submersible travelled on the seabed and carried out relevant works. The overall performance of the entire submersible was very stable.’
The ‘Deep-sea Warrior’ (pictured) is China’s second manned deep-sea submersible. It was expected to visit the deepest point in the Mariana Trench following a series of experiments
Mr Ye is also the chief engineer of China’s deep-sea submersibles project, a programme set up in 2016 to develop some of the world’s most advanced ocean-exploring machines.
He previously claimed that exploring ocean trenches could help scientists draw a ‘treasure map’ for the bottom of the sea, signalling the country’s ambition to search for natural resources in the most mysterious parts of the world.
Another Chinese crewed submersible, Shen Hai Yong Shi or ‘deep-sea warrior’, was expected to visit the deepest point in the Mariana Trench following a series of experiments, state-run news outlet The Global Times reportedly earlier his year.
The machine was set to take on the Challenger Deep, which has an estimated depth of 11,033 metres (36,200 feet).
Probably the most alien part of the earth, the Challenger Deep remains largely unknown to humans.
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