"Titanic" director makes first solo dive to Earth's deepest point

Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:36pm EDT
 
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By Steve Gorman

(Reuters) - "Titanic" film director James Cameron has completed the world's first solo dive to the deepest-known point on Earth, reaching the bottom of the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench southwest of Guam in a specially designed submarine.

The filmmaker arrived at the site known as "Challenger Deep" shortly before 8 a.m. local time on Monday (2200 GMT on Sunday), reaching a depth of 35,756 feet, or roughly 7 miles beneath the ocean's surface, said the National Geographic Society, which is overseeing the expedition.

Cameron's first words to the surface on reaching the bottom following a descent that took two hours and 36 minutes were "All systems OK," National Geographic said on its website.

"Hitting bottom never felt so good. Can't wait to share what I'm seeing w/ you," the 57-year-old filmmaker said in a separate Twitter message posted just after he touched down.

The low point of the Mariana Trench, a great canyon below the Pacific, has been reached by humans just once before, in 1960 when U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh and the late Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard spent 20 minutes there in the submersible craft Trieste.

Cameron, the first person to make a solo dive to the spot, spent about three hours on the bottom collecting research samples for marine biology, geology and geophysics and taking still photographs and video footage of the trench.

After a faster-than-expected 70-minute return ascent, he safely reached the surface at noon local time Monday (0200 GMT) about 300 miles southwest of the U.S. territory of Guam in the western Pacific, National Geographic said in a press statement.

The expedition was a joint project by Cameron, National Geographic and watchmaker Rolex that has been dubbed "Deepsea Challenge" and was designed to expand understanding of a little-known corner of the Earth.   Continued...

 
"Titanic" film director James Cameron gives two thumbs-up as he emerges from the Deepsea Challenger submersible after his successful solo dive to the deepest-known point on Earth, reaching the bottom of the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench southwest of Guam in a specially designed submarine in this photograph released March 26, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Thiessen/National Geographic/Handout