interests shifted when he realized that a modification
of some of his atmospheric balloon concepts would allow
descent into the deep ocean. By 1937, he had designed
a small steel gondola to withstand great external pressure.
Construction began, but was interrupted by the outbreak
work in 1945, he completed the steel gondola for personnel
and a large float was attached for buoyancy, using gasoline
as the medium. To make the now floating craft sink,
tons of iron were attached to the float with a release
of the first bathyscaph, FNRS-2 (the original FNRS was
Piccard's stratospheric balloon), was relatively straightforward.
The passenger compartment was a steel sphere large enough
to hold two crew and fitted with two portholes. This
sphere was attached to an elongated float filled with
gasoline, which is lighter than water and therefore
more buoyant. (The relationship of gasoline and water
is comparable to that of helium and air, and the bathyscaph
has been compared to an underwater balloon.) The tank
also had provisions for water and iron ballast, which
could be jettisoned at the bottom of the dive in preparation
for the ascent.
November 3, 1948, FNRS-2 made an unmanned trial descent
to a record depth of 1.371 meters (4,500 feet) off Dakar,
Senegal. Funding difficulties led to the bathyscaph's
transfer to the French Navy, and it was officially renamed
word bathyscaph was coined by Auguste Piccard from the
Greek words BATHOS "deep", and SCAPHOS "ship",
term is properly applied only to those deep submergence
vehicles which use a gasoline-filled-float to carry
the pressure sphere in which the operators ride.
In 1952 Professor Piccard began construction of the
next bathyscaph with the financial and technical support
of many institutions, companies and individuals in Trieste,
Italy. The bathyscaph was launched on August 1, 1953
and christened "TRIESTE". She was constructed
with a pressure sphere manufactured by "Societie
Terni" which was designed to operate to a depth
of 20,000 feet.
Trieste basically consisted of a float filled with gasoline
and a separate pressure sphere. This sphere provided
just enough room for two persons and was built by the
Krupp Steel Works of Essen, Germany. To withstand the
staggering pressure of 9 tons per square inch (124 MPa)
at the bottom of Challenger Deep, the new sphere's walls
were 5 inches (127 mm) thick. It weighed 13 tons in
air, 8 tonsin water.
1953 through October 1957 the "BATISCAFO TRIESTE",
as it was known in Italy, conducted 48 dives, to depths
exceeding 12,000 feet and did not go unnoticed by the
Italian Press, the general public or those wishing to
commemorate her existance and accomplishments. Neither
did those accomplishments go unnoticed by the United
1957, TRIESTE was evaluated by the U.S. Office of Naval
Research, subsequently purchased, and assigned to the
Naval Electronics Laboratory, San Diego, California,
where she arrived in December 1958. Here she was extensively
Its primary mission of TRIESTE was to assist and support
the oceanographic research efforts of the United States
test programs and scientific projects involving ten
dives, were conducted by TRIESTE during the next few
significant of these was "PROJECT NEKTON"
in which TRIESTE conducted a series of seven dives including
three deep dives, climaxing on January 23, 1960 in a
35,800 foot descent into the "Challenger Deep".
reached the ocean floor in the Challenger Deep, carrying
Jacques Piccard and Lieutenant Don Walsh, USN.
was the first time a ship, manned or unmanned, had reached
the deepest point in the sea. The descent took almost
five hours and the two men spent barely twenty minutes
on the ocean floor before undertaking the 3 hour 15
minute ascent. They observed small soles and flounders
and noted the floor consisted of diatomaceous ooze while
on the bottom. The record set that day stands alone
today. For this series of dives, TRIESTE was fitted
with a new pressure sphere, manufactured by the "Krupp
Werke (works)" of Germany and designed for operation
to 36,000 feet.
That dive gained, not only a record which cannot be
exceeded but, world wide recognition of the TRIESTE
and its occupants on that dive, Jacques Piccard, son
of Auguste Piccard and Navy lieutenant Don Walsh.
miles down; the story of the bathyscaph Trieste
by Jacques Piccard; Robert S Dietz