New Delhi: After a break of two years, India’s manned submersible project is back on the track. Chennai-based National Institute of Technology (NIoT) has decided to manufacture the submersible vehicle part by part with external assistance and assemble it on its own.
According to scientists, the manned submersible project is tougher than the space mission as the vehicle would be subjected to greater water pressure when it dives down the deep ocean.
Speaking to this newspaper, NIoT scientist and former director Dr M.A. Atamanand said, “We had tendering issues earlier for the whole manned submersible, which caus-ed the delay. We have desi-gned the specifications of the manned submersible with an endurance of 12 hours when it is operating at the depth of 6,000 metres in the ocean.”
“Just like how we have developed Space technology independently, we want India to manufacture on its own instead of buying from them,” he said. The manned submers-ible takes three to four hours to reach the sea bed. At a depth of 6,000 metres, each inch of your body or vehicle’s surface will be subjected to a pressure that is 600 times greater than what is felt at the sea level.
NIoT has already tested unmanned submersible and remote operated vehicle at 6,000 metres. “We also successfully demonstrated the soil tester and we have full confidence in both ROV and Soil Tester. But for manned submersible, we will take the help of Isro, which is working on the manned lunar mission, or the Navy that has submarines. Its safety has to be certified by global agencies as the Indian Register of Shipping doesn’t have this expertise,” he explained.
Dr Atamanand said the total project would cost around Rs 235 crore and it will be completed by 2019. Undersea ocean explorers will be trained abroad as India does not have training facility. The submersible will carry a cr-ew of three undersea exp-lorers including the pilot.
Explaining the difficulties in undertaking undersea voyages, “Though the oceanic system is nearer, it is tougher than the space due to high pressure at the deep ocean. Communication is toughest as we have to depend only on acoustics whereas communication in space is better though it it delayed. Seawater is corrosive and hydrodynamics makes it tough. Absolute darkness is another disadvantage.”
Submersibles have many uses worldwide, such as oceanography, underwater archaeology, ocean exploration, adventure, equipment maintenance and recovery, and underwater videography.
The design of the submersible’s pressure hull will be made of titanium alloys to withstand pressures in the range of 500 to 600 bars at 6,000 depths. Crew will be encapsulated in the pressure hull in the crew compartment and with life support systems. So far only five countries the US, France, Russia, Japan and China have technology to manufacture it.