Monday, December 24, 2018

Wall Street trader reaches bottom of Atlantic in bid to conquer five oceans

Victor Vescovo says: ‘It felt great to get to the true bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in history.’ Photograph: Richard Varcoe - Special Project Six
From The Guardian by Rupert Neate

A multimillionaire Wall Street trader has become the first person to reach the deepest point of the Atlantic Ocean as part of an extreme mission to dive to the depths of the world’s five oceans.

Victor Vescovo, 53, the founder of US private equity firm Insight Equity Holdings, on Friday piloted a $48m (£38m) submarine 8,376 metres (almost five miles) beneath the ocean surface to the bottom of the Puerto Rico trench.

“It felt great to get to the true bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in history,” Vescovo said.
“Our depth of ignorance about the oceans is quite dramatic. Four of the oceans have never even had a human being go to their bottom. In fact, we don’t even know with great certainty where the bottom of the four are.”

Vescovo has already climbed to the highest peak of each of the world’s seven continents and trekked to both the north and south poles.
But he is not alone in that feat.
At least 62 other people have also completed the so-called explorers’ grand slam.

The project is due to commence later this week with a dive down 8,648m to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean’s Puerto Rico Trench and all going well it will continue throughout 2019.
Later journeys in the two-person submersible will descend to the South Sandwich Trench (8,428m/27,651ft below the surface of the Southern Ocean); the Java Trench in the Indian Ocean (7,725m/25,344ft); Marina Trench/Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean (10,898m/35,755ft); and Malloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean (5,669m/18599ft).
Five Deeps Expedition

Desperate to prove himself as the world’s “ultimate explorer”, Vescovo set himself a fresh challenge: to dive to the deepest point of each of Earth’s five oceans.

He will now head to the South Sandwich trench in the Southern Ocean, about 100km east of the South Sandwich Islands.
That trench, 8,428 metres below the surface, is unnamed and Vescovo hopes his dive there in February will grant him naming rights.
Getting to the bottom of the ocean is not easy, or cheap.
The pressure is more than 16,000 psi (pounds per square inch) – more than 1,000 times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level.
In order to withstand it safely, Vescovo ordered his specially built submarine at a cost of $48m.

 Victor Vescovo will now head to the South Sandwich trench in the Southern Ocean.
Photograph: Caladan Oceanic

The 11.2-ton Triton submarine, named Limiting Factor, has a 9cm-thick titanium hull built using advanced forging techniques and tested in Russia to conditions equivalent to 13,198 metres, or 20% greater than the ocean’s deepest point.

Vescovo is able to sit back and relax in the vessel’s leather armchairs as it descends to 10,950 metres in less than two-and-a-half hours.
Pilots can explore the ocean using four cameras or look out into the dark depths through three acrylic viewports.

Vescovo, who will be followed on his adventure by cameras from the Discovery Channel, said: “I’ve always loved a great physical and technical challenge and, like those currently attempting to push space technology to the limit, I thought it would be a great goal to push the absolute limits of marine technology.

After the Southern Ocean, Vescovo will dive 7,725 metres to the Java trench in the Indian Ocean.
The fourth dive will be the deepest – 10,925 metres to the Mariana trench, the deepest point in the world.

Twelve people have walked on the moon but only three have ventured to the Mariana trench’s Challenger Deep.
Two explorers – Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard – reached it in 1960 and the Titanic film director, James Cameron, went there in 2012.

The fifth dive will be in the near-freezing waters of the Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean.
“We sincerely hope to make history, both technically and scientifically, on this expedition,” Vescovo said.

From Atlantic Productions and coming soon to the Discovery Channel, Deep Planet follows The Five Deeps Expedition. 
This three-minute trailer follows the team during the final stages of testing of the Limiting Factor manned submersible that will journey to the deepest point in each of the world's five oceans.

He is travelling with Alan Jamieson, a marine biology lecturer at Newcastle University, who has embarked on 50 deep-sea exploration missions and hopes to make fresh discoveries about life at the very depth of the world’s oceans.

“Currently, we know more about the intricacies of the lunar surface than we do about the depths of our oceans,” Jamieson said.
“The discoveries made on this expedition promise a world of new scientific innovation in almost every area of biological, geological and oceanographic study.”

 The ship Pressure Drop will be the service vessel for the Five Deeps mission
The Limiting Factor will be transported from one remote location to another aboard a ship named Pressure Drop, which has been adapted especially for this mission. 

Vescovo has always been a high achiever.
He was in the top 5% of his MBA class at Harvard business school, picked up a master’s degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a double major degree in economics and political science from Stanford University.

He started mountain climbing in 1998 and last year became the 12th American to complete the explorers’ grand slam.
Only 17 people, including one woman and two Britons, have completed the “true” explorers’ grand slam to reach both the North and South Pole and climb the seven summits.
A further 46 people, including Vescovo, have completed the slightly easier “last degree” of the explorers’ grand slam, which requires travelling to within one degree of the poles and not to the exact point.

When all Vescovo’s dives – which will include additional trips to locations including a possible site of the MH370, the Malaysia Airlines flight that went missing in 2014 – are complete, the submarine and its support ship will be available for another super-rich adventurer to buy – for a cool $48.2m.

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