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Research Vessels: Submersibles - Trieste

Department of Navy Press Release

February 1, 1960

ABOARD THE USS LEWIS OFF GUAM--(NAVNEWS)--The Navy's bathyscaph Trieste again set a world's diving record when she probed 37,800 feet to the depths of the Marianas Trench, deepest known hole in the world's oceans, Jan. 23.

Lt. Don Walsh of San Diego, Calif., and Swiss scientist Jacques Piccard, operating from this destroyer escort, made the descent. No difficulties were experienced during the dive, during which the Trieste was subjected to a pressure of 16, 883 pounds per square inch (more than a thousand times greater than the pressure at sea level).

This depth program has been named "Project Nekton" and, according to a Navy announcement, provides "scientific knowledge of sunlight penetration, underwater visibility, transmission of man-made sounds, and marine geological studies." The Trieste had previously made two record-setting dives, the last on Jan. 7 when she descended to 24,000 feet.

There was light outside the Trieste until about 800 feet, according to Lt. Walsh. At about 6000 feet, the chill from the water forced both men to don warmer clothing. The entire descent required 4 hours and 48 minutes. Once done, about 20 minutes was spent on the bottom making observations and recording data. Lights enabled the men to see living and moving objects. The return trip to the surface was made in 3 hours and 17 minutes.

ADM Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations, sent congratulations to the two men. He termed their record-breaking feat an accomplishment that " may well mark the opening of a new age in exploration of the depths of the ocean which can well be as important as exploration in space has been in the past."

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