Hess Deep Home

The Atlantis / Research Gear

The Hess Deep Expedition uses the most sophisticated scientific equipment available. The research team is working onboard the R/V Atlantis, one of the newest research vessels in the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's fleet.

R/V Atlantis

Some facts about R/V Atlantis:

  • Type: Oceanographic Research
  • Year Built: 1997
  • Owner: US Navy
  • Length: 274 '
  • Beam: 52 '6"
  • Draft: 17 '
  • Displacement, Full: 3,510 long tons
  • Gross Tons: 3,200 tons
  • Endurance: 60 days
  • Speeds:
  • Cruising: 12.0 knots
  • Maximum: 15.0 knots
  • Minimum: 0 knots
  • Range (Nautical Miles): 17,280
  • Laboratories: 3,710 square feet
  • Complement:
  • Crew: 23
  • Scientific Party: 24
  • DSOG/Technical: 13
  • Propulsion: Diesel-electric, azimuthing stern thrusters
  • Fuel capacity: 296,470 gallons
  • Other features:
  • Dynamic positioning system
  • ROV submersible hangars
  • Fully equipped machine shop
  • Air conditioning
  • Library/lounge
  • Laundry
  • Two rigid-hull inflatable rescue/work boats
  • [Click here for additional information
    about the R/V Atlantis.]


    The dream of building a manned deep ocean research submersible first started to move toward reality on February 29, 1956. Allyn Vine of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) attended a symposium in Washington, where participants drafted a resolution that the US develop a national program for manned undersea vehicles.

    In 1960, Charles Momsen, head of the Office of Naval Research (ONR), petitioned for scientists to rent a submersible with ONR funds, and found WHOI investigators interested. In the spring of 1962, after unsuccessful negotiations with various submersible builders to rent a sub, Vine and others at Woods Hole went requested bids to buy a small submersible based on drawings made by Bud Froehlich for a vehicle he called the SEAPUP. General Mills won the bid for $472,517 for an unnamed 6,000-foot submersible.

    Alvin has been used for ocean research around the globe, but gained media attention in 1985 when it dove to the hulls of the sunken ocean liner RMS Titanic.

    [Click here for additional information
    about Alvin.]

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