DeepFlight Merlin

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Class overview
Builders: Hawkes Ocean Technologies
Operators: Virgin Oceanic
Preceded by: DeepFlight Super Falcon
Completed: 1
Active: 1
General characteristics
Type: Submarine
Displacement: 750 kg (1,650 lb)
Length: 4.6 m (15 ft)
Beam: 3.0 m (9.8 ft)
Speed: 5 knots
Capacity: 3
Crew: 1

DeepFlight Merlin is a personal submarine by Hawkes Ocean Technologies, part of the DeepFlight line of submersibles. The positively buoyant[1] submersible was designed by Graham Hawkes.[2] The Merlin was the first winged open-cockpit submarine (a wet sub) available on the market,[2][3] and first three-man submarine in the "aero submarine" class,[4] representing a major advance in scuba diving technology.[5]

It travels up to 5 knots,[2] has an operating time of one hour,[2] and an open cockpit,[2] requiring the use of scuba gear by occupants,[2] and giving them 360-degree views of the space around them.[1] The sub carries three, two passengers and one pilot.[6] The occupants have "windshields" to protect them from the water stream.[7] It is capable of hydrobatic maneuvers[clarification needed] and 360-degree turns.[8] It weighs 750 kg, is 4.6 m long, 3.0 m wide, 1.2 m tall, and runs off battery power.[9] It is available as either a single-seater or two-seater.[9] The design work on the sub started in July 2009.[10]

Necker Nymph[edit]

The first example of the Merlin, the Necker Nymph, was sold to Richard Branson's Virgin Hotel Group.[11] It cost US$670,000[7] and is operated by Virgin Aquatic[12] from the 32-metre yacht Necker Belle,[13] which is based at the Virgin Limited Edition resort Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.[14]


  1. ^ a b Design World, "DeepFlight Merlin 3-person Aero Submarine", 18 February 2010 (accessed 31 July 2010)
  2. ^ a b c d e f ABC News, "Richard Branson's 'Underwater Plane' Is 1st of Its Kind", Ki Mae Heussner, 4 February 2010 (accessed 31 July 2010)
  3. ^, "Virgin Goes from Air to Sea with Luxury Submarine Rides", 6 February 2010 (accessed 2 August 2010)
  4. ^, "Necker Island & Virgin founder Richard Branson on Oprah Winfrey Show", 22 April 2010, Matt Clark (accessed 2 August 2010)
  5. ^ Forbes, "Submarines For The Super-Rich", Joumana Saad, 11 May 2010 (accessed 2 August 2010)
  6. ^ Deep Flight, Merlin press release, 1 February 2010 (accessed 31 July 2010)
  7. ^ a b Popular Mechanics, "Richard Branson Dives Into Personal Submarines With Hawk", Cassie Rodenberg, 11 March 2010 (accessed 31 July 2010)
  8. ^ SmartPlanet, "Richard Branson reveals $662K fighter jet-inspired submarine", Andrew Nusca, 1 February 2010 (accessed 31 July 2010)
  9. ^ a b gizmag, "Necker Nymph: underwater flying becomes Virgin territory" (accessed 31 July 2010)
  10. ^ Outside Magazine, "Just Don’t Call It a Submarine", Thayer Walker, May 2010 (accessed 31 July 2010)
  11. ^ Contra Costa Times, "San Anselmo's Hawkes sell submersible to billionaire Richard Branson", Jim Welte, 2 February 2010 (accessed 31 July 2010)
  12. ^ Time Magazine, "Virgin Founder Richard Branson", Dan Fletcher, 1 September 2009 (accessed 25 July 2010)
  13. ^, "Necker Nymph ‘Underwater Aircraft’ announced by Virgin Limited Edition" (accessed 25 July 2010)
  14. ^ New York Daily News, "Richard Branson's latest toy? An underwater plane called 'Necker Nymph'", Catey Hill, Monday 1 February 2010 (accessed 25 July 2010)

External links[edit]

  • DeepFlight, Merlin (official webpage)

See also[edit]