ABOARD XIANGYANGHONG 09 — China’s deep-sea manned submersible Jiaolong carried out its first dive in hydrothermal area in the southwest Indian Ocean on Dec 23.
The submersible commenced its dive at 7:30 am local time (0330 GMT) and will return to the Xiangyanghong 09 oceanographic vessel at around 5:30 pm. (1330 GMT).
The crew included Fu Wentao, one of the divers of Jiaolong; Ye Cong, chief designer of Jiaolong and an employee of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corp; and Tao Chunhui, researcher with the Second Institute of Oceanography of the State Oceanic Administration.
Being the first task of Jiaolong’s Indian Ocean mission, the main purpose of the dive is to test whether all parts of the submersible work well after a four-month-maintenance, Fu said, adding that the depth of the dive is around 2,700 meters to 3,000 meters.
“If the submersible is all fine and there is extra time left, we will carry out some scientific investigations,” he said.
“Our scientists want to get some samples of rocks, biology and sulfide in the submarine hydrothermal area,” Tao said, adding, “If we are lucky enough to find an active hydrothermal vent, we will try to get a sample of the hydrothermal fluid and test its temperature.”
Jiaolong will dive 20 times to research polymetallic sulfides, biological diversity, hydrothermal microbes and genetic resources in the southwest Indian Ocean in a four-month mission, according to Yu Hongjun, chief commander of the mission.
Named after a mythical dragon, Jiaolong reached its deepest depth of 7,062 meters in the Pacific’s Mariana Trench in June 2012 and started its five-year trial period in 2013.