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Victor Vescovo's record-breaking plunge into the Mariana Trench!

As part of the Five Deeps expedition, Victor Vescovo plunged to the bottom for the fourth time in the deepest part of one of the five oceans. This time the Challenger Deep, the deepest place on Earth, was successfully reached. In the process, a new record was set, reaching a depth of 10,928 metres! This
Published: May 14, 2019 - 16:49
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 18:12
Victor Vescovo’s record-breaking plunge into the Mariana Trench!

As part of the Five Deeps expedition, Victor Vescovo plunged to the bottom for the fourth time in the deepest part of one of the five oceans.

This time the Challenger Deep, the deepest place on Earth, was successfully reached. In the process, a new record was set, reaching a depth of 10,928 metres! This is only the third time in the history of mankind that it has been possible to plunge to the deepest place on our planet.

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Victor Vescovo’s record-breaking plunge using the Triton 36000 bathyscaphe was preceded in 1960 Don Walsh and Jaques Piccard in the Trieste bathyscaphe (10912 m) and in 2012. James Cameron in the Deepsea Challenger bathyscaphe (10898 m). Therefore, as it is easy to count, the third human visit to the Challenger Deep is the deepest one. Vescovo improved the 1960 result by 16 metres.

Surface team takes up the Limiting Factor vehicle
Surface team takes up the Limiting Factor vehicle

Between April 28 and May 5, 2019, there were conducted four immersions to the bottom of the Challenger Deep and one final dive, which took place on 7 May in Sirena Deep (a depth discovered in 1997 by scientists in Hawaii), a depth also located in the Mariana Trench area, some 128 miles to the northeast. The two plunges, including the record-breaking one on 28 April, were solo and were performed personally by Victor Vescovo.

Limiting Factor vehicle preparing for record-breaking plunge
Limiting-Factor vehicle before record-breaking dive

This is truly indescribable. We are all excited about what we have just achieved. This submarine and its mother ship, together with an extremely talented expedition team, have taken marine technology to an unprecedented level. We feel we have just created and opened a powerful door. We are ready to explore and visit at any time any place in the ocean that is still 90% unexplored – said Vescovo

Victor Vescovo leading the record-breaking dive
Victor Vescovo piloting a submersible vehicle
Through the eyes of a pioneer

On board the DSSV “Pressure Drop” during this historic achievement was the legendary American explorer Dr Don Walsh. Together with Jacques Piccard, he made the first successful dive in the Mariana Trench in 1960. Walsh, observing the record-breaking plunge, was very impressed by the capabilities that the Vescovo team now possesses.

Victor Vescovo’s imagination and curiosity, the technical excellence of the Triton vehicle, and the excellent work of the officers and crew made this expedition a huge success. And I was there to see it. This time it was an impressive Tour de Force (a play on words – force from English means power and is a reference to the Tour de France – ed.) when the team repeated the Challenger Deep dive four times in just eight days. It was a demonstration of system reliability and operational efficiency that we had never seen before in exploration. I was proud and honoured to have been invited to be part of the Victor team – said Dr Don Walsh

Film documentation confirming record-breaking immersion
A frame from a video taken at the bottom of the Challenger Deep
In the depths

As with all previous dives, the team carefully measured and mapped the operational area using Kongsberg’s EM124 sonar. While on the bottom, Victor Vescovo or a team of two – a pilot and a specialist – would typically spend 3-4 hours. During this time they carried out their research and the objectives set by the scientific teams.

13-Sub-Return-Mariana-Trench-©ReeveJolliffe

The submersible took 3.5 hours to reach the bottom of the Challenger Deep and another 3.5 hours to emerge from it. This resulted in an average total immersion time of approximately 11-12 hours. This includes the 1 hour needed to lower and retrieve the vehicle from the surface.

With his dives, Victor Vescovo also became the first person to climb Mount Everest and to reach the bottom of the ocean, as well as to reach both poles on skis. He is therefore the first to have completed one version of the “four corners of the earth”. He also summited the Seven Summits in 2011 – climbing the highest peak on each continent. Now he has also climbed the deepest parts of four of the five oceans.

12-DSV-Limiting-Factor-Mariana-Trench-_©ReeveJolliffe©_7503046

The record-breaking plunge and the Five Deeps Expedition project is being filmed by Atlantic Productions. All as part of a five-episode documentary series that will air on the Discovery Channel in late 2019.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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