Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Container Shipping Line Boldly Go.........

Maersk Join Virgin in Undersea Adventure
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – Container shipping giant Maersk Line has stepped up to sponsor the Virgin Oceanic Expedition (VOE) designated to explore the deepest points of the world's five oceans. Subject to the receipt of all required regulatory approvals Maersk will provide logistical support in addition to the funding it has already provided for scientific equipment used in the expedition to collect and analyse samples from the submarine dives and catamaran voyages and may transport the specially designed submarine plus support equipment.

The Virgin Oceanic 'Five Dives' initiative is headed by Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, and the American explorer and sailor Chris Welsh each of whom intend to man an innovative deep diving submarine on five dives to the bottom of the world's oceans. The deepest dive will take the adventurer 36,000 feet down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench after which he will be able to 'fly' six miles across the Trench floor. The dives will run over a period of two years, after which the submarine will be donated to a U.S. museum.

Eskild Lund Sorensen, Head of Marine Stewardship, Maersk Line said of the project:

"The Five Dives expedition is a unique and exciting opportunity for Maersk Line to support scientific ocean research. It is well aligned with our aspirations on improving the understanding of the state of the world's oceans."

The expedition embarks from San Diego in the summer with the first dive taking place off the coast of Guam in the Mariana Trench, no one has returned to the depths of the trench since Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard in 1960, still the only men to make the trip. Over the course of approximately two years the team will uncover the deepest trenches of the Indian, Atlantic, Arctic and Southern Oceans. Virgin Oceanic was formed by the Virgin Group to act as a sponsor of and partner on the Five Dives Expedition.

Chris Welsh, through his company Deep Sub LLC, owns and will operate the submarine. The expedition will require various regulatory approvals, including export licenses, which Deep Sub LLC will obtain. Welsh bought the submersible after the death of Branson’s old fellow adventurer Steve Fossett who died in 2007 and it was Fossetts intention to pilot the mission.

When everything is in place the DeepFlight Challenger dives will include the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, the Diamantina Trench in the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean’s Puerto Rico Trench, Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean and lastly the South Sandwich Trench below the Southern Ocean. Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group said:

"We are delighted to receive the support of Maersk Line in this amazing adventure to go where literally no man has gone before. Maersk Line is an important partner in this project and a sustainability ally demonstrating true commitment to protecting the marine environment."

Photo: Courtesy of Virgin Oceanic