The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

Going Deep

Posted by Deliverator on February 15th, 2006

This Monday my dad and I had an interesting little adventure. We hopped on the ferry to Bainbridge Island and then drove south to the Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport, where Don Walsh was giving an evening talk on the battleship Bismark.

Don Walsh is most famous for his 1960 dive to the deepest point in the ocean, the Challenger Deep. Don and Jacques Piccard descended some ~35,800 to reach bottom. Since then, no manned expedition has come even close to reaching this depth. The deepest manned submersibles now in operation can go ~20,000 feet, I believe. There has only been one other unmanned probe that has gone as deep, and it was lost in 2003. More people have walked on the moon than have visited the deepest areas of the ocean.

Don has gone on to do many noteworthy things since his 1960 trip and is very well known as a polar explorer. He is currently involved in a group called Deep Ocean Expeditions that is keeping poorly funded deep ocean exploration alive through extreme tourism. The group has done dives on the Titanic, Black Smokers and in 2001 they became the first to visit the Bismark. If you have ~$40,000 burning a hole in your pocket, you too can take part in one of their expeditions. This is a steal compared to other forms of extreme tourism.

Don’s talk on the Bismark was very interesting. Don is most definitely well-versed in the ship’s history, historical significance, design, etc. and conveyed the information in a much more human way than the History Channel could. Don was very passionate about the history of the Bismark, but was also very respectful of the wreck’s status as a war grave.

After the talk, I was struck by how closely the history of exploration has been tied to military endevours. War seems to be one of the few expedients to paying for and engineering the devices needed to convey our fragile selves to unvisited places. It deeply saddens me that the only commercial interest in space seems to be in the launching of satellites and sending wealthy people into near earth orbit.

Don Walsh Bismark Bismark2