Into the depths of darkness, for a 12-hour dive
The MAN|April 01, 2021
DUBAI-BASED HAMISH HARDING HAS DONE WHAT NO MAN HAS EVER ACHIEVED: HE SPENT FOUR HOURS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE MARIANA TRENCH WHILE TRAVERSING A HORIZONTAL DISTANCE OF 4.6 KM. THIS IS HIS STORY
Vivek Mukherji

IT'S THE DEEPEST, darkest and, one of the most hostile and quietest places on earth. To get a sense of its depth, if the Mount Everest were to be scooped up and dropped into this hole, it would disappear without a trace. Ever since the British oceanographic ship, HMS Challenger, first measured its depth at roughly eight kilometres — though highly inaccurate by the current measure — in 1875, the Mariana Trench has held a powerful sway over the imagination of adventurers, explorers, and marine scientists.

It took 85 years since its discovery for the first dive to the bottom in 1960, and another 52 years for the second person to plumb its depth. But it all changed in 2018, following the commissioning of DeepSea Vehicle, Limiting Factor, developed by Florida-based Triton Submarines. Since 2019, after its pilot, Victor Vescovo, made a solo dive to the bottom of the trench, the former US naval intelligence officer has chaperoned 14 more people into the depth of darkness.

In early March, Dubai-based British national Hamish Harding successfully attempted what no one else had achieved before. He set the record for the longest time of spending 4 hour 15 mins at the bottom of the Mariana Trench while traversing a horizontal distance of 4.6 km.

WATER WORLD

• The Limiting Factor has changed the paradigm of deep-sea diving. The earlier submersibles became unusable after one dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. In 1960, US-Swiss expedition commanded by Don Welsh and Jacques Piccard were the first persons to reach the bottom of the Western pool in submersible called Trieste that was designed by the Swiss and built in Italy. The duo spent a mere 20 minutes at the bottom before they were forced to ascend

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