Miles Down: The Story of The Bathyscaph Trieste.
January 23rd, 1960.
the deepest depths ever reached by man, Jacques Piccard
and Lieut. Don Walsh flew into Washington to receive
decorations from President Eisenhower, and to tell how
it felt as the bathyscaph Trieste dropped seven miles
down through the Pacific Ocean to the bottom of the
Trieste passed through many thermal layers. When it
came to the dense cold layers, it stopped. "We
sat on them like going down steps," said Lieut.
Walsh. The crew had to release some of the buoyant gasoline
in its upper hull before it resumed its dark, downward
contact with the surface was a telephone that transmitted
their voices in sonar waves to a listening device on
the mother ship. Part way down, it conked out, and the
Trieste men drifted on down, utterly isolated from outside
contact. Probably the mother ship had drifted sideways
and the sonar waves were not strong enough to penetrate
at an angle. When the bathyscaph reached bottom, contact
was re-established. From seven miles down, Walsh's voice
reached the listeners, faint but clear.
30,000 ft. a sharp crack rang through the ship, shaking
it violently. The water pressure outside wasmore than
6 tons per sqare inch., and even a slight fracture in
the hull would have meant certain death. It proved to
be only an outer Plexiglas windowpane which had splintered
under the pressure. The inner hull remained watertight.
"A pretty hairy, experience," admitted Walsh.
the Trieste finally settled on the bottom, it raised
clouds of fine white silt. Dr. Andreas B. Rechnitzer,
the scientist in charge of the dive, identified the
"dust" as diatomaceous ooze, the silica skeletons
of small sea creatures, often used as scouring powder.
In effect, the Trieste landed in a cloud of Bab-O.
visible when the dust settled was a white flatfish about
one foot long. It seemed healthy and it had eyes, although
the nearest trace of sunlight was more than seven miles
overhead. Swimming six feet above the bottom were a
shrimp and a jellyfish, neither of them bothered by
the enormous pressure on their bodies. The very fact
that these creatures were living and healthy proved
that the water had oxygen in it. Therefore it must circulate,
because if it were stagnant in the trench, its oxygen
would long since have disappeared. One immediate conclusion:
ocean trenches are not safe places for dumping radioactive
wastes, since their water does not stay put.
Trieste stayed on the bottom for 30 minutes, but Piccard
and Walsh could use its powerful lights for only short
periods because the heat they generate made the water
around them boil violently. In later dives the Trieste
will carry more instruments, take more pictures, and
collect water and living creatures from the depths.
Says Dr. Rechnitzer: "We'll go up and down like
1960, Swiss scientist Jacques Piccard
(above in this photo) and Navy lieutenant
Donald Walsh made history when they descended
in the U.S. Navy bathyscaphe Trieste to
the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The
brave divers were housed in a sphere attached
to the bottom of the bathyscaphe's long
from the water by a floating crane, during
testing by the Naval Electronics Laboratory
in the San Diego, California, area. Trieste
was being prepared for transportation to
the Marianas Islands for a three-month series
of deep-submergence operations. On 2 October
1959, she was loaded on the frieghter Santa
Maria for the trip to the mid-Pacific.
view of the front of Trieste's pressure
sphere, showing plexiglass window and
leads. The forward ballast silo, with
metering valve on its bottom, is in the
upper left. Photo was
taken circa 1958-59, shortly after Trieste
was obtained by the Navy.
before her record dive to the bottom of
the Marianas Trench, 23 January 1960. The
dive, to a depth of 35,800 feet in the Challenger
Deep, off Guam, was made with Lieutenant
Don Walsh, USN, and Swiss scientist Jacques
Piccard on board. Waves were about five
to six feet high when the two men boarded
Trieste from the rubber raft seen at left.
USS Lewis (DE-535) is steaming by in the
Piccard, and his assistants make final checks
aboard her, prior to Trieste's first deep
dive in the Marianas Trench. On 15 November
1959, off Guam, she dove to 18,600 feet,
breaking the previous record of 13,000 feet.
USS Wandank (ATA-204) is in the distance,
apparently towing the bathyscaphe. Navigation
bouy on right indicates that the photo may
have been taken as Trieste left port to
make the dive.
arrangement drawing, showing the bathyscaphe's
Drawing was released in connection with
Trieste's record dive to 35,800 feet in
the Challenger Deep, off Guam, on 23 January