Alvin Manned Submersible Makes its 5000th Dive

Alvin, a manned submersible vehicle commissioned in 1964, is still in use today for a variety of ocean science activities. (Photo Credit: Luis Lamar, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The Alvin manned submersible vehicle made its 5,000th dive during an expedition to the Guaymas Basin in the Gulf of California in November 2018, marking a milestone in a its 54 years of operation in ocean science.

The submersible, which was officially commissioned June 5, 1964, has been used in a number of key discoveries and projects including the discovery of ocean-floor hydrothermal vents in 1977, aiding in the recovery of a lost hydrogen bomb, exploring the wreck of the RMS Titanic and examining impacts to deep-sea coral communities in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Alvin is one of only five deep-sea research submersibles in the world and the only U.S. submersible capable of carrying humans to the sea floor. The workhorse sub executes about 100 dives per year, and over its life has accounted for more than half of all of the scientific dives carried out by human-occupied submersibles worldwide. The vehicle can currently dive to 4,500 meters, and it is undergoing an upgrade to allow it to dive to 6,500 meters, putting 98% of the sea floor within its reach.

Learn more at WHOI.

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