Submersible Alvin
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Sail Exterior
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Basket bar10
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Virtual Expedition bar26
What does a submersible wear on it's day off?

Today, scientists are making exciting discoveries about the ocean, thanks to deep-sea submersibles such as Alvin.

Owned by the U.S. Navy and operated for the national ocean science community by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, this three-person sub, known officially as a "deep submergence vehicle," made its first dive in 1964. Since then, Alvin has made more than 4,200 dives. With a maximum diving depth of 4,500 meters (about 3 miles), the sub has the capabilty to reach over 62% of the ocean floor.

Alvin has conducted a wide variety of research missions, from discovering giant tubeworms on the Pacific Ocean floor near the Galápagos Islands, to exploring the wreck of RMS Titanic in the Atlantic Ocean.

Alvin has met some amazing life on its travels, but so far it has not encountered one of the deep sea's most mysterious inhabitants — the elusive giant squid. However, Alvin once was attacked by a swordfish, which became trapped between two pieces of the sub's fiberglass skin. The fish was brought back to the surface and cooked for dinner!

A new Alvin is now being constructed. The new sub, projected to be completed in 2011, will descend to 6,500 meters (over 4 miles), opening 99% of the ocean floor to potential study.


How did Alvin get its name?

What equipment does Alvin have?

How big is Alvin?

""More Alvin Questions and Answers

Daily DiscoveriesWelcome Aboard
Alvin Stats

Length: 23.3 feet

Height: 12 feet

Draft: 7.5 feet

Gross Weight:
35,200 pounds

Operating Depth: 14,764 feet

Cruising Speed: 0.5 knot

Maximum Speed: 2 knots

Max. Cruising Range: 3 miles

Payload: 1,500 pounds

Dive Duration: 6–10 hours

Life Support: 216 man-hours
(72 hours x 3 persons)

Complement: 1 pilot, 2 observers

Propulsion: Six reversible, electric thrusters



An educational program sponsored by:

National Science Foundation
University of Delaware
The University of Waikato
University of Southern California
University of Colorado
University of North Carolina
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico
J. Craig Venter Institute
Mo Bio Laboratories Inc.


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