Dives to five deepest ocean depths honoured

Victor Vescovo and Triton Submarines celebrate record explorations

Author: Pat
8th October 2021
(c) Tamara Stubbs

Patrick Lahey of Triton Submarines during Challenger Deep dive in 2019

Imagine diving to the deepest place on Earth: it is such a hostile and remote place that few of us will ever do it. Commander Victor Vescovo has now been honoured for diving to the FIVE deepest parts of the ocean, no less.

In 2015 Commander Vescovo proposed a goal of finding and diving into the five deepest spots in the world’s ocean with dives taking place in the Atlantic, Southern, Indian, Pacific and Arctic oceans.

Triton pioneered a revolutionary new submersible

This feat required not only a unique diving submersible but also fielding a specially equipped survey and support ship.

Under the leadership of Patrick Lahey,  the team at Triton Submarines responded to Commander Vescovo’s project by creating the Triton 36000/2, the first – and to date, only fully accredited (DNV/GL certified) human occupied deep submersible capable of routine exploration at full ocean depth.

Commander Vescovo’s submersible of that design is named the ‘Limiting Factor’. Lahey and the Triton Submarines team took the design from concept to build, testing, trials, shakedown, initial deployment and through to the successful completion of the Five Deeps Expedition.

Here in the UK, the Marine Technology Society (MTS) and The Society for Underwater Technology (SUT) have recognised the team’s stunning deep ocean achievements by awarding them the 2021 Captain Don Walsh Award for Ocean Exploration.
This revered honour has been won jointly by Commander Victor Vescovo, USN, Retired and Patrick Lahey for the 2019 Five Deeps Expedition and further dives of scientific or historical interest in subsequent years.

Awarded jointly by the Marine Technology Society and the Society for Underwater Technology, this esteemed award is named after American oceanographer, explorer, retired naval officer, and marine policy specialist Captain Don Walsh. Walsh and co-pilot Jacques Piccard were aboard the bathyscaph Trieste when it made its daunting record descent on January 23,1960 into the deepest point of the world’s oceans – the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.

Triton Submarines operations team dive Challenger Deep in 2019

Triton Submarines operations team dive Challenger Deep in 2019

The award recognises outstanding, sustained, international contribution to the development, application, and propagation of marine technology toward the advancement of ocean exploration.

“It is a true honour to be recognised by the experts of the MTS and SUT, alongside my friend and colleague Patrick. I would have to emphasise that he and I were simply the leaders of an extraordinary team that enabled our success – and we certainly stood on the shoulders of giants like Captain Walsh and James Cameron who developed extraordinary, full ocean depth technologies before us,” said Commander Vescovo.

“I am honoured and humbled to have been chosen as a co-recipient of this prestigious award by the MTS and SUT together with my client and friend Victor. Developing the Triton 36000/2 was the most challenging and rewarding undertaking of my professional life so far. I was incredibly fortunate to work with a remarkably diverse team of talented, creative, and resourceful people who pioneered a revolutionary new submersible that enabled the successful completion of the Five Deeps Expedition. To receive the award from Captain Don Walsh personally is particularly meaningful because Don is a friend, mentor and living legend,” said Lahey.

“What excited the judging panel was that this brought together the perfect combination – an explorer with a zest for life and discovery and superb technology. Indeed, it would be unbalanced to nominate Commander Vescovo without acknowledging the revolutionary application of modern marine technology achieved by Lahey and the team at Triton. Technology lies not only at the heart of the names of both societies but is key to our ethos and our membership,” said Judith Patten MBE, President of the SUT.

Following the well-documented Five Deeps Expedition dives https://fivedeeps.com/ in 2019, further dives have taken place. In 2020, Commander Vescovo partnered with the French Navy to dive on the wreck of the submarine Minerve, and with the International Hydrographic Bureau and the Monaco Blue Initiative to explore the deepest spot in the Mediterranean.

After a second year of dives into the Challenger Deep, which included the first women to dive to the deepest depths, former astronaut Kathy Sullivan, the Pressure Drop surveyed the entire northern “Ring of Fire” from Guam to Alaska, discovering, mapping, and naming over 70 new underwater features.

During the 2021 dives, Commander Vescovo marked a personal 12th dive into the Challenger Deep, and discovered the deepest wreck in history, the U.S. World War II destroyer Johnston off the Philippine Island of Samar.

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