Manned Sub for Argentina Coast Guard
In 1973, Jacques-Yves Cousteau loaded two mini-subs and 20 tons of equipment on a railway to cross the Andes Mountains to see Lake Titicaca. Since then, no one has repeated his feat of diving with manned submersibles in the lakes of the Andes Mountains. In Patagonia, on both sides of the Andes and in Argentina and Chile, these lakes can exceed 400 m in depth.
Decades later, in 2012, the Prefectura Naval Argentina (PNA) looked into acquiring a manned sub for a very different purpose than Cousteau’s, to meet the pressing need to have modern equipment for salvage operations and scientific diving. PNA had started implementing deep-diving methods some years earlier with mixed gas diving and diving bells. This progressed to the use of ROVs supplied by a German company, Mariscope Meerestechnik, that came equipped with various types of instruments and were successfully used not only in the lakes of the Andes but also in the oceans around Argentina and even Antarctica
Diving operations with open or closed bells are always difficult and expensive as they require a support vessel and lots of logistics. And while ROVs can perform incredible tasks and solve many problems underwater, there are many cases where a human presence would greatly simplify the work, if it were not for the limitations of the diving procedures, temperature, pressure, dive time and so on.
And so, PNA put out a call to Mariscope for a manned sub that would be multipurpose, multifunctional, transportable and not too expensive. Most important, the manned submersible has to be able to dive in the nearshore ocean environments and lakes of the Andes. Therefore, it would have to be able to operate without a large support ship. The Ocean Pearl submersible model from California-based SEAmagine Hydrospace Corp., for which Mariscope is the South America representative, best fit the specifications.