2019 was the true beginning of the Pentarius project, though the initial inception occurred many years ago. Multiple missions, numerous countries, various vessels, thousands of miles at sea… What a first year!
First up was the final commissioning of the mothership, readying her at the SugarDock boatyard in California for potentially years abroad. Then, leaving the nest for the crossing to Hawaii. A small journey in the scheme of things but still a big span of ocean – 2,336 miles as the crow flies.
Hawaii’s mission was scanning for historic WWII wrecks. A month long search along the coastlines used the mothership and a torpedo-sized AUV-autonomous underwater vehicle- Hugin. The team discovered and documented a remarkable number of vessels, over 32 wrecks off the Hawaiian shores in that short span of time.
From there it was aiming the bows further west: a 5,334 mile journey across the Pacific Ocean to unite with the DeepFlight Super Falcon Polaris submarine, in the Philippines. The Super Falcon is a battery powered two man submarine, capable of reaching depths of 120meters/390 feet, designed by Graham Hawkes.
After uniting mothership and submersible, the project veered northwards, headed for China and the Xiamen International Boat Show and World Ocean Conference, to speak and spread the word of the Pentarius project, and allow the public to see the submarine and mothership on display.
Leaving Xiamen, the team had a beautiful 600 mile journey up the cost before battling the traffic of the last 100 miles also heading into the shipping port of Shanghai. Given a local pilot to cover the last miles to the dock gave a preview of the great welcome we would then find in port. Shanghai was a fabulous destination for the project to make new connections at the World Ocean Conference and explore opportunities in submarine manufacturing on behalf of Deep Flight.
Next was moving onto the final, most important destination of the year: Okinawa, Japan, the capital city Naha, and the Zamami Island in the East China Sea. Here is where Polaris had her first submersion – a week of checkout dives to ensure all systems were functioning on the sub, to make sure the interaction between sub and mothership was flawless, to spy some underwater life in the form of sea snakes, and to begin to do some scientific research as well, pulling samples of small invertebrates to search for new mutations and disease among deep and shallow-water life. Our time in Japan, the diving in Zamami Island and the beginnings of our sampling was the culmination of a great year for the project.
A look forward from sub-pilot Tina Roberts: ‘We are so excited for 2020. We learned the tenacity it takes to move in Asia from country to country by boat. What intrigue the underwater world can teach us with the joy of a fully charged submarine battery. While we plan our next dives in February, we’ll be that much farther ahead.’