China’s manned deep-sea submersible finishes 21 dives of over 10,000 meters in oceans

The scientific research ship Tansuo-1 retrieves the manned submersible Fendouzhe. (Photo courtesy of China State Shipbuilding Corporation Limited)

China’s manned submersible Fendouzhe (Striver) has completed 21 dives with a depth of over 10,000 meters, carrying 27 scientists to the deepest parts of oceans. Both the figures are the highest in the world.

The submersible has just recently returned to a port in the city of Sanya, south China’s Hainan province from a 53-day expedition, carried by the scientific research ship Tansuo-1. It marked that the submersible has completed its second stage of sea trials of 2021.

During this expedition, which was joined by over 60 researchers from 10 organizations, Fendouzhe finished 23 dives, six of which exceeded a depth of 10,000 meters. It has successfully landed on the Challenger Deep, the deepest known point of the seabed at the southern end of the Mariana Trench.

The Challenger Deep has a depth of more than 10,900 meters at its deepest point. As a key channel in the deep sea and a mysterious region that sees active geological activities, it is considered one of the frontiers of marine science.

During the second stage of sea trials, a series of deep-sea instruments were tested in a depth of over 10,000 meters, including full-ocean depth autonomous underwater vehicle Wukong and an acoustic release transponder.

Besides, as a submersible that is able to dive deep and work with a high precision, Fendouzhe obtained a batch of valuable samples, including water, sediment, rocks and micro-organisms. It has accumulated valuable data for use in comparative studies of environments, geological structures and life forms in different trenches.

It is worth mentioning that after the expedition, the 67-year-old scientist Wang Jian became the first man in China that has joined surveys to the North and South Poles, topped the Qomolangma and dived into the waters over 10,000 below the sea surface. He is also the oldest person in the world with such an accomplishment.

During the second stage of sea trials, the Mariana Consensus was initiated by participating scientists, which calls for the establishment of a standardized system for deep-sea expeditions to realize the long-term preservation and sharing of deep-sea scientific samples and data. The Consensus adopts a volunteer cooperation and sample sharing mechanism.

Besides, the expedition also launched the Mariana Trench Environment and Ecology Research Project (MEER). The project will invite experts and scholars from both China and abroad, so as to tackle major scientific issues together, such as the origins of life and environmental adaptation, biodiversity and climate change, among others.

In recent years, China has actively launched international cooperation on manned deep-sea exploration. Ye Cong, chief designer of Fendouzhe said the Chinese submersible will be open to global scientists under certain rules. China hopes to further enhance mankind’s understanding of the deep ocean through relevant science plans and international cooperation.

Chen Chuanxu, chief scientist of the second stage of sea trials, introduced that Fendouzhe completed 51 dives this year, and three of them were made in five days. These dives have made the launching and retrieval of the submersible adaptable to a wider scope of sea state, and trained more oceanauts, which has made it possible for Fendouzhe to carry more scientists across the world to the deepest areas of the world.

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