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A submersible is a small vehicle designed to operate underwater. The term submersible is often used to differentiate from other underwater vehicles known as submarines, in that a submarine is a fully autonomous craft, capable of renewing its own power and breathing air, whereas a submersible is usually supported by a surface vessel, platform, shore team or sometimes a larger submarine. In common usage by the general public, however, the word submarine may be used to describe a craft that is by the technical definition actually a submersible. There are many types of submersibles, including both crewed and uncrewed craft, otherwise known as remotely operated vehicles or ROVs. Submersibles have many uses worldwide, such as oceanography, underwater archaeology, ocean exploration, adventure, equipment maintenance and recovery, and underwater videography.
Bushnell built the first underwater vessel to be used for military purposes. In 1775 Britain's North American colonies rebelled against British rule, precipitating a war of independence. An enthusiastic American Patriot, David Bushnell(1740-1824). of Saybrook, Connecticut devised a secret weapon to counter the might of Britain's Royal Navy. He Designed and built a submersible vessel to attack warships in the harbor. This Device dubbed as Bushnell's Turtle was an oval shaped vessel of wood and brass. it had a tanks of water that was filled with water to make it dive and then emptied it with the help of a hand pump to make the device return to the surface. The maneuver operates the vessel with the help of foot pedals which operates the two propellers attached to it and a handle which helps the maneuver to operate it vertically or laterally under the water. Vehicle's inside was natural luminescent wood to provide light for reading the instructions on compass and a depth meter.
Bushnell's turtle was first set into action on September 7, 1776 at New York Harbor to attack the British Flagship named "HMS Eagle". Sergeant Ezra lee was controlling the vehice at that time. Lee Successfully brought the turtle up against the underside of eagle's hull but failed to attach the charge because of the strong water currents.
Apart from size, the main technical difference between a "submersible" and a "submarine" is that submersibles are not fully autonomous and may rely on a support facility or vessel for replenishment of power and breathing gases. Submersibles typically have shorter range, and operate primarily underwater, as most have little function at the surface. Some submersibles operate on a "tether" or "umbilical", remaining connected to a tender (a submarine, surface vessel or platform). Submersibles have been able to dive to over 10 km (6 mi) below the surface.
Submersibles may be relatively small, hold only a small crew, and have no living facilities.
There are three basic technologies used in the design of submersibles. Single atmosphere submersibles (one atmosphere subs) have a pressurized hull and the occupants are at standard atmospheric pressure. This requires the hull to be capable of withstanding the high pressure from the water outside that is many times greater than the internal pressure.
Another technology called ambient pressure maintains the same pressure both inside and outside the vessel. This reduces the pressure that the hull has to withstand.
A third technology is the "Wet Sub", which refers to a vehicle that may or may not be enclosed, but in either case water floods the interior so SCUBA equipment is used to facilitate breathing. In both single atmosphere and ambient pressure subs, there is no need to use SCUBA equipment and occupants can breathe normally without wearing any equipment.
Deep-diving manned submersibles
Some submersibles have been able to dive to great depths. The Bathyscaphe Trieste was the first to reach the deepest part of the ocean, nearly 11 km (7 mi) below the surface, at the bottom of the Mariana Trench in 1960. China, with its Jiaolong (submersible) project in 2002, was the fifth country to send a man 3,500 meters below sea level, following the US, France, Russia and Japan. On June 22, 2012, the Jiaolong submersible set a deep-diving record when the three-person sub descended 22,844 feet (6,963 meters) into the Pacific Ocean.
Among the most well-known and longest-in-operation submersibles is the deep-submergence research vessel DSV Alvin, which takes 3 people to depths of up to 4,500 metres (14,800 ft). Alvin is owned by the United States Navy and operated by WHOI, and as of 2011 had made over 4,400 dives.
James Cameron made a record-setting, manned submersible dive to the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest known point of the Mariana Trench on March 26, 2012. Cameron's submersible was named Deepsea Challenger and reached a depth of 10,908 metres (35,787 ft).
More recently, private firms such as SEAmagine Hydrospace, Sub Aviator Systems (or 'SAS'), and Netherlands-based U-Boat Worx have developed small submersibles for tourism, exploration and adventure travel. A Canadian company in British Columbia called Sportsub has been building personal recreational submersibles since 1986. They currently have models that will hold from one to eight occupants.
Small unmanned submersibles called "marine remotely operated vehicles" or MROVs are widely used today to work in water too deep or too dangerous for divers.
Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) repair offshore oil platforms and attach cables to sunken ships to hoist them. Such remotely operated vehicles are attached by a tether (a thick cable providing power and communications) to a control center on a ship. Operators on the ship see video images sent back from the robot and may control its propellers and manipulator arm. The wreck of the Titanic was explored by such a vehicle, as well as by a manned vessel.
- The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2011. The Canadian Encyclopedia Archived March 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
- Ocean Outpost: The Future of Humans Living Underwater, by Erik Seedhouse. 2010. Ocean Outpost: The Future of Humans Living Underwater - Erik Seedhouse - Google Books
- Andrea Mustain (22 June 2012). "China Breaks Deep-Sea Diving Record". LifeScience. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- "Human Occupied Vehicle Alvin". NDSF Vehicles. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- "DEEPSEA CHALLENGE Facts at a Glance". Deepsea Challenge (National Geographic). Retrieved June 29, 2014.
- Jeff Wise (18 December 2009). "3 Contenders in the Race for the Perfect Personal Submarine". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
- Parag Deulgaonkar (26 November 2011). "UAE firms, residents take fancy to $1m mini-submersible". Emirates 24/7. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
- Jonathan Tagliabue (2 October 2007). "For the Yachting Class, the Latest Amenity Can Take Flight". New York Times. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
- Ben Coxworth (10 October 2011). "U‐Boat Worx makes its mini-submersibles available for private charter". GizMag. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
- Polmar, Norman. "Bathyscaph." World Book Online Reference Center. 2008. (accessed 26 Jan. 2008) http://worldbookonline.com/wb/Article?id=ar049420.[dead link]
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