High-speed, super agile Super Sub shows up in the flesh at Monaco
U-Boat Works has unveiled "the fastest private submersible ever conceived" – let alone built. The three-person bubble-cabin Super Sub looks like an underwater supercar, and it's quick enough to cruise, if not sprint, with bottlenose dolphins.
We first learned about the Super Sub concept back in 2021, and then took another look in 2022 when the design was revised to make it even faster.
Well, now awkwardly-named Dutch company U-Boat Worx has actually gone and built the thing and shown it off at the Monaco Yacht Show. And if it looked like sci-fi in the renders, it sure seems to look just as nutty in the flesh.
Highly reminiscent of the nasty octopus robot things from the first Matrix movie in flight, the Super Sub's elongated 6.5-meter (21.3-ft) body is designed for the slipperiest possible hydrodynamics. It rocks a full 100 kW of electric thrust, and the thrusters have hydrofoils attached, which can quickly direct the water flow from the thrusters.
These hydrofoils give it the ability to make sharp, banked turns, and ascend and descend quickly at angles up to 45 degrees. Submarine wheelies, anyone? It sure looks a lot more agile than your typical yacht garage submersible.
It's not built to go super deep – 300 m (1,000 ft) under is its limit, but that's probably about as deep as folk want to go in 2023. Endurance from the 62-kWh onboard battery is around eight hours, but life support, oxygen, CO2 scrubbing, interior lighting and communications with the surface will last at least 96 hours, as mandated by DNV rules.
Other safety considerations include an automatic maximum depth protection system, which won't let you go beyond what the sub's rated for, and a dead man's switch that'll automatically resurface the sub if the pilot doesn't hit a button every 10 minutes.
“The Super Sub's speed of 10 knots is 3-4 knots faster than the top cruising speed of a bottlenose dolphin and 7 knots faster than the average submersible," says Roy Heijdra, Marketing Manager at U-Boat Worx, in a press release. "Owners can glide behind a group of sea turtles, cruise alongside a school of sharks, dive and turn with a pod of dolphins, or swiftly navigate through the undercurrents with a powerful barracuda.”
Ten knots is about 11.5 mph, or 18.5 km/h. About twice as fast as prime Michael Phelps in the pool, then, and yes, substantially quicker than a bottlenose that doesn't really have anywhere to be. So pilots may well be able to join a pod on their morning jog, enjoying the wide, panoramic view through that clear spherical cabin. But make no mistake: if the dolphins decide to drop the hammer, they'll take off at nearly twice the speed and leave you eating bubbles.
Only one has been built thus far, due for delivery at the end of the year. The company says it'll have more built next year for those willing to swallow the €5.2-million (US$5.44-million) starting price. Check out a video below.
Source: U-Boat Worx