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Seattle Company Partners With UW To Build One-Of-A-Kind Submarine

Courtesy of OceanGate
Rendering of manned deep sea sub in development in Seattle.

 A commercial submarine operator is teaming up with the University of Washington to build a new, manned deep sea sub. The five passenger mini-sub could be available for charter by oil companies or researchers beginning in 2016.

Seattle-based OceanGate Inc. currently operates two small submarines for hire. It sees a market for deeper diving manned submersibles. To that end, the small company has partnered with the University of Washington and Boeing to design a stubby, bullet shaped mini-sub with a 180 degree viewing dome in its nose.

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush says this will be "the first deep manned" sub with a hull made out of carbon fiber and thick glass.

"We anticipate making several of these vehicles," Rush says. "They will have different configurations for different applications. But that will all entail the same kind of carbon fiber hull."

He says the biggest target sector is the oil are gas industry. Others users could include the military, deep sea miners and academic researchers.

But it won't come cheap. Rush says the cost to charter the mini-sub could average $35,000 a day.

Specs published by OceanGate indicate the initial model is being designed to be capable of descending nearly two miles -- three kilometers -- beneath the waves.

Rush says his company still needs to recruit additional investors to fund construction.

On the Web: The Cyclops Submersible by OceanGate Inc.:

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.