Five Deeps Expedition Press Release – Explorer makes history as first human to successfully dive to the deepest point in the Southern Ocean, in the South Sandwich Trench

February 4, 2019 – The Five Deeps Expedition crosses another historic dive off its list when explorer Victor Vescovo became the first human to dive to the deepest point in the Southern Ocean – in the southern portion of the South Sandwich Trench – at 7,433.6 meters/24,388 feet in his private submersible, the Limiting Factor. Located just north of the Antarctic continent, the Southern Ocean’s South Sandwich Trench has not been thoroughly explored and is the only subzero Hadal zone (deeper than 6,000 meters) in the world. No human has ever dived in the trench, and what few samples have been taken from its Hadal depths, date back to the early 1970s. Due to its remote location, this dive posed many logistical and weather-related challenges, however the scientific findings could prove to be groundbreaking.

A revolutionary documentary series about the expedition is also being filmed by Atlantic Productions for Discovery Channel and will air in early 2020.

“I am so proud of the entire team for working in very difficult, near-zero (Celsius) temperatures to launch and recover the Limiting Factor. It was an extremely challenging dive technically, but we were lucky with the weather and were able to visit the bottom of the Southern Ocean for the very first time,” said Vescovo. “It also felt great to prove the technical capability of the sub to do a manned dive into a sub-zero Hadal zone, which has never been done before – or even attempted to our knowledge. It was a great day for science and engineering.”

To accomplish the dive, a two-person deep-sea research submersible was manufactured by Triton Submarines of Sebastian, Florida specifically for this endeavor. Designed to slip vertically through the water column at high speeds, Vescovo was able to safely reach the bottom of the South Sandwich Trench in approximately 2.7 hours. While on the bottom accompanied by two deep-diving scientific landers, he mapped and took high-definition video of the sea floor and also collected soil and water samples for further study.

The Five Deeps Expedition is the first oceanic journey to take a manned, commercially-certified submersible vessel further and deeper than any in history. In addition to Vescovo’s solo dive, the expedition also accomplished:

  • First human being to reach the bottom of the Southern Ocean in the southern portion of the South Sandwich Trench,
  • Most accurate mapping of the South Sandwich Trench to date using a modern multibeam sonar system,
  • Deepest dive into a sub-zero Hadal zone, only the third solo dive below 7,000 meters,
  • The third-deepest solo dive in history, after James Cameron’s 2012 dive to the Pacific Ocean’s Challenger Deep, and Vescovo’s dive in December 2019 to the bottom of the Atlantic.