WHOI Submersible Alvin Makes 5,000th Dive

Photo by Drew Bewely, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

WOODS HOLE – The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s manned research submersible Alvin has reached a milestone.

The research vessel made its 5,000th dive Sunday during an expedition tp the Guaymas Basin in the Gulf of California.

Alvin has been in service for more than 50 years and is the country’s only deep-diving research submersible capable of carrying humans to the sea floor.

Alvin has allowed for the discovery of hydrothermal vents and gave researchers their first look at communities of deep-sea organisms.

The vessel also aided in the recovery of a lost hydrogen bomb, explored the wreck of the RMS Titanic, and examined impacts to deep-sea coral communities in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Alvin, which is supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, is one of only five deep-sea research submersibles in the world.

Currently, the vessel can reach a depth of 4,500 meters, or 15,000 feet, which allows access to two-thirds of the ocean’s floor. The final phase of an upgrade will soon be complete which will allow Alvin to dive to 6,500 meters, or 21,000 feet, putting about 98 percent of the ocean bottom within its reach.

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