China's submersible to go 5,000 meters deep in Pacific Ocean

JIANGYIN, Jiangsu, July 1 (Xinhua) -- China's manned deep-diving submersible, the Jiaolong, embarked on a journey on Friday during which it will make a 5,000-meter dive in the Pacific Ocean.

During the dive, the submersible will undergo several operational tests in which it will take photos, shoot video, survey seabeds and take samples from the ocean floor, according to Jin Jiancai, deputy director of the submersible's diving test program team.

The tests will be conducted in the Pacific Ocean in accordance with a contract signed between the China Ocean Mineral Resources Research & Development Association and the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

The submersible is scheduled to spend 47 days at sea, according to a statement from the Ministry of Science and Technology.

A submersible differs from a submarine, as it typically depends on another vessel or facility for support.

China's national deep-sea base to begin construction this year

Located in east China's coastal city of Qingdao, the base will cost 495 million yuan (76.2 million U.S. dollars) and will be a multi-functional institution that will aid China in its study and exploration of the ocean, according to Liu Baohua, director of the base's administrative center.

Scientists believe that the area's seabeds hold abundant deposits of rare metals and methane hydrate, a solidified form of natural gas that may serve as a new source of energy.

The base will also serve as a ground support station for a submersible vehicle nicknamed "Jiaolong," which reached a record depth of 3,759 meters during test runs conducted last year, according to Liu.

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As the first manned vehicle in the world designed to reach 7,000 meters below sea level, the submersible can be used in 99.8 percent of world's sea areas, according to the vehicle's chief designer Xu Qinan.

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China is the fifth country in the world to have conducted a manned dive to more than 3,500 meters below the sea level, after the United States, France, Russia and Japan.

China's ambitious ocean exploration program began in 2002 and has involved more than 100 research institutes and companies, officials said.

The development of the submersible and its support vessel, as well as the selection and training of the crew took six years, oceanic administration officials previously said.

The submersible "Jiaolong" would be used for deep-sea natural resources inspections, as well as research and tests of equipment designed for deep-sea use.

China succeeds in a manned dive to over 3,700 meters below sea level
The submersible, dubbed "Jiaolong," completed 17 dives in the South China Sea from May 31 to July 18, with the deepest reaching 3,759 meters and with three crew on board, the SOA said in a report.

4,000-year-old coral beds among world's oldest living things: researchers
The coral beds were discovered in about 1,200 feet of water using submersible vehicles. One of the beds covers several hundred square feet, Roark noted.


                    Editor: An Lu