China Successfully Tests A Submersible That Will Give It Access To 99.8% Of The Ocean Floor


Photo: CNTN TV

China’s successfully tested what will be the world’s deepest diving manned submersible vehicle in its quest for rare earth minerals.The Wall Street Journal reports the trial was completed Tuesday morning and far surpasses U.S. submersible capabilities.

Named the Jiaolong, after a mythical Chinese dragon, the craft settled to the ocean floor 16,591 feet below the surface.

Currently capable of reaching 70 per cent of the ocean floor, the Jiaolong is designed to dive 7,000 meters and will be tested at that depth next year.

If successful, that will make it the deepest diving submersible on the planet and put almost the entire ocean floor within China’s reach.

The Jiaolong planted a Chinese flag on the ocean floor last year, fueling fears the technology would be used for military purposes like cutting communication lines, retrieving foreign weaponry, rescuing naval submarines, and intercepting communications.

China insists the subs purpose is for mining rare earths only — now that prices warrant deep sea extraction.

The U.S. will complete modifications on an ageing Alvin submersible in 2015, capable of hitting 6,500 meters, but investment in research has dwindled over the last 20 years, even as other countries have focused on securing deep sea rights for themselves.

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