Marine

Triton's Titanic Explorer will reach new depths for luxury bubble-subs

Triton's Titanic Explorer will...
Triton's new Titanic Explorer submarine rocks a neat set of extending gull wings, and is rated for more than 13,000 ft depths, making it the only acrylic ball sub capable of visiting the wreck of the Titanic
Triton's new Titanic Explorer submarine rocks a neat set of extending gull wings, and is rated for more than 13,000 ft depths, making it the only acrylic ball sub capable of visiting the wreck of the Titanic
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Triton's new Titanic Explorer submarine rocks a neat set of extending gull wings, and is rated for more than 13,000 ft depths, making it the only acrylic ball sub capable of visiting the wreck of the Titanic
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Triton's new Titanic Explorer submarine rocks a neat set of extending gull wings, and is rated for more than 13,000 ft depths, making it the only acrylic ball sub capable of visiting the wreck of the Titanic
Articulating gull-wings give underwater scientists and cinematographers new capabilities, as well as making it easier to park
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Articulating gull-wings give underwater scientists and cinematographers new capabilities, as well as making it easier to park
The thick acrylic sphere becomes completely transparent underwater, with no optical distortion, and will give pilots and passengers unprecedented views of water as deep as 13,000 ft
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The thick acrylic sphere becomes completely transparent underwater, with no optical distortion, and will give pilots and passengers unprecedented views of water as deep as 13,000 ft
The 6-meter-wide articulating gull wings house lighting, camera and propulsion equipment
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The 6-meter-wide articulating gull wings house lighting, camera and propulsion equipment
The Titanic Explorer uses a single piece of thick acrylic, heated up and molded into a spherical shape, to withstand the enormous pressures of the deep ocean
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The Titanic Explorer uses a single piece of thick acrylic, heated up and molded into a spherical shape, to withstand the enormous pressures of the deep ocean
The Triton 3300/3 alongside the new gull-winged Titanic Explorer 13000/2
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The Triton 3300/3 alongside the new gull-winged Titanic Explorer 13000/2
View gallery - 6 images

Florida's Triton has been making high-end civilian submarines for more than a decade now, dividing its sales between scientific explorers, commercial and cinematography clients, and ultra-rich superyacht owners looking to spruce up their wet garages with something more interesting than a jet ski.

The key to Triton's market dominance has been its mastery of the acrylic sphere. Its bubble-subs give drivers and passengers an ultra-widescreen panoramic view of the world under the water, totally free from optical distortion.

The hull simply disappears when you're underwater; editors on the BBC's Blue Planet II series couldn't distinguish between footage shot from inside the thick bubble and footage shot from external cameras. You're sitting there thousands of feet under the surface, totally immersed in the undersea world, and yet free to move around in air-conditioned comfort at terrestrial pressure levels.

In the past, Triton has made these spheres by casting two separate acrylic half-domes of Plexiglass and sticking them together with an invisible adhesive, but in recent years as the company's ambitions have expanded, it's been creating them from a single slab that's heated and then formed into shape.

The Titanic Explorer uses a single piece of thick acrylic, heated up and molded into a spherical shape, to withstand the enormous pressures of the deep ocean
The Titanic Explorer uses a single piece of thick acrylic, heated up and molded into a spherical shape, to withstand the enormous pressures of the deep ocean

That's the only way you could possibly build a bubble as large as the one used in the remarkable 6-seat 3300/6 we first saw late last year, and it's certainly the only way you could guarantee the strength, thickness and optical perfection needed to build Triton's latest machine.

The Triton 13000/2 Titanic Explorer will be the deepest diving acrylic bubble sub ever built, by a long way. It'll be capable of diving to 4,000 m (13,123 ft), making it the only transparent sphere that can take you and a buddy down to the wreck of the Titanic, some 3,800 m (12,500 ft) under the surface.

Triton's dropped in on Jack and Rose's love nest once before, mind you, back in 2019. But to do so, it needed to use its monstrous 36000/2 sub, which has a titanium sphere hull capable of taking two people to the bottom of the Marianas trench. Indeed, it was the first manned mission to the Titanic wreck in some 14 years, so rather a special achievement.

Articulating gull-wings give underwater scientists and cinematographers new capabilities, as well as making it easier to park
Articulating gull-wings give underwater scientists and cinematographers new capabilities, as well as making it easier to park

Thus, the ability to visit the world's most famous shipwreck – and do so in a comfortable, see-through ball – is one heck of a selling point. But the new sub has another extraordinary trick up its sleeve in the form of a set of huge, articulating gull wings coming off the top. These fold down against the sides of the bubble for a nice slippery hydrodynamic shape as you drop down or rise up through the water, meaning the journey down to Titanic-level depths takes just two hours, "significantly faster than previously possible."

Once they're up and out, they stretch to a width of 6 m (19.7 ft), and offer a couple of key advantages. Firstly, if you're down there to shoot photo or video, the wings are fitted with lighting and camera mounts, giving you the ability to shoot things from one point and light them from another, moving either the camera or the light at will by controlling the wings. That'll be terrific for cinematographers – lights too close to the camera tend to wash out an image and make it feel flat and boring – and it'll be equally handy to be able to swivel the camera around for wide-angle shots of the presenter and crew in the bubble in selfie mode.

Secondly, the wings also contain the sub's propulsion units, so if you're close to the sea floor or a delicate wreck, you can get the thrusters up high and wide before you move around and disturb it. Of course, the folding wings come in handy when it's time to park the sub in a garage, too, or in an instance where you need to squeeze through a tight gap.

The thick acrylic sphere becomes completely transparent underwater, with no optical distortion, and will give pilots and passengers unprecedented views of water as deep as 13,000 ft
The thick acrylic sphere becomes completely transparent underwater, with no optical distortion, and will give pilots and passengers unprecedented views of water as deep as 13,000 ft

A new Silent Glide feature is also notable; while the sub's descending, it can make "gentle, sweeping turns," or maintain a fixed heading, or track an object, or glide towards a target in a controlled fashion, without using its thrusters, so as not to disturb wildlife or introduce noise into a video recording.

The Titanic Explorer will carry enough battery power and life support for two-person expeditions longer than 12 hours. Interestingly enough, that takes just 40 kWh worth of battery. It uses four main and four auxiliary direct drive electric thrusters, each putting out up to 5.5 kW. It weighs 12,000 kg (26,455 lb), and measures 4.45 x 2.75 x 3 m (14.6 x 9 x 9.8 ft) when it's folded up, so it ain't small.

There's no information as yet on price or availability for the Titanic Explorer 13000/2, but I think we can safely assume it's a lot, and made to order. Enjoy the video below to get a sense of why the experience of going underwater is so much more impressive in an acrylic bubble.

Triton Submarines - Heart of the Ocean

Source: Triton Submarines

View gallery - 6 images
8 comments
Ron
Such a shame the governments of the world spend billions to go into space and it takes a private company to explore the planet beneath our very feet.
minivini
You are so right, Ron. For all the high profile missions to Mars, I’d much rather live in a station in the ocean on our own planet. In fact, it seems obvious that humans could perfect the autonomic systems needed to survive on other planets in such a station. Our lack of knowledge of our own planet is pretty astonishing.
Jim E
Why would you need air conditioning while surrounded by near freezing water?
Nobody
40 years ago my diving instructor told me about his buddy that drowned when held on the bottom by a giant catfish, He, himself nearly drowned a few years later when a large grouper held him down while working on an underwater pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico. He beat the fish on the head with his wrench until it let him go. I, myself had a nine foot sting ray swim up and swallow my whole left arm while snorkeling. Luckily, I was able to pull my arm out of its mouth and pop to the surface. It will be interesting when these bubble-subs start disappearing after encountering giant squid and what ever else lives in the deep that we don't even know about.
And I too wondered why a bubble -sub would need air conditioning in 32-39 F. degree deep ocean water. A good heater would be in order. It would likely draw a lot of battery power since a bubble-sub doesn't look very well insulated. I wonder what denizens of the deep would like a hot lunch.
Ron
Thanks Minivini, somehow I think what is happening on the ocean floor is going to shape our future a great deal more than whether there was once water on mars.
buzzclick
Amazing.
From the highest mountain tops to the deepest ocean bottoms, someday there will be a craft than can be navigated effortlessly from one to the other.
@Jim...when people think of AC they automatically think cooling. A heater is really another kind of air conditioning, for our comfort.
Dr.Glove136
@Y’all who are wondering about air conditioning: There has to be some sort of humidity control to prevent the crew’s warm, humid breathing exhalations from condensing on the inside of the near-freezing bubble and/or creating a foggy atmosphere, a condition that would not promote enjoyment of the oceanic depths. Worse yet, the Person on the Controls (POC) could very well experience incapacitating spatial disorientation (Oh no, aviation speak)…let’s think inverted and diving beyond crush depth. Yes, climate control would be essential. But take heart, herein lies the potential for a fantastic undersea horror movie.
genegough
Air conditioning doesn’t only mean cooling.