The general designer is Xu Qinan (徐芑南), a former professor at the School of Naval Architecture, Ocean and Civil Engineering (船舶与海洋工程学院) of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), who also designed many other Chinese submersibles and unmanned underwater vehicles. Xu is now an academician for the Chinese Academy of Engineering. The first deputy general designer is Cui Weicheng (崔维成), and the deputy general designer was Zhu Weiqing (朱维庆).
On June 27, 2012, the Jiaolong with two oceanauts reached a depth of 7,062 meters (23,169 feet) in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean. Previously, on June 19, 2012, the Jiaolong reached a depth of 6,965 metres (22,851 feet). It had its first test in South China Sea between May 31 and July 18, 2010, reaching a depth of 3,759 metres (12,333 ft) with three crew. On July 22, 2011, Jiaolong reached a depth of 4,027 metres (13,212 ft) in northeastern Pacific. The five-hour mission included chemical, physical and biological research. Seventeen dives have been completed.