back to article Richard Branson to prowl oceans' hadal depths in flying sub

Sir Richard Branson has set his sights on conquering the world's oceanic depths in a revolutionary carbon fibre and titanium "flying" submarine. The Virgin supremo's Virgin Oceanic project will encompass five dives over the next two years to "the deepest part of each of Earth's five oceans". The submarine is described as …


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  1. Blofeld's Cat

    Flying Sub?

    Please tell me that the mother-ship will be called "Seaview."

    1. Stuart Halliday
      Thumb Up


      It of course should be called Thunderbird 2. With the craft called Thunderbird 4... :)

  2. DavCrav
    Thumb Up

    Does something interesting/useful with his money

    You can say what you want about Branson, he is actually moving engineering and technology forward. Think what all these footballers, racing drivers and movie stars could get done with their money if they weren't such fuckwits.

    1. Paul Naylor
      Thumb Up

      Absolutely agree

      I don't know why Branson comes in for so much flak when, as you say, he is investing his own money to push the boundaries of technology and engineering forward. We need to get out of this "we're shit" attitude in this country and support our innovators and visionaries, instead of bitching about them. But I guess hoi poloi are only interested in (insert name of vacuous z-list celeb here) and every minutae of their pointless lives...

      Read Branson's biography. It's ace!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Still Agree.. but

        Suspect its more along the lines of Branson creating company X, doing service very well. Then cashing in and selling it with the Virgin brand name still attached, service goes rapidly downhill. People still assume Branson owns the company and thus a muncher when they've spent 4hrs talking to a muppet to get their issue sorted, while reading that Branson is worth £X million quid.

        Would do him more favours if he sold companies minus the Virgin name

      2. Jim Morrow
        Paris Hilton

        which book?

        > Read Branson's biography. It's ace!

        is that the one tom bower wrote? you know, the one beardie tried to ban?

        btw, are you *really* sure branson is investing his own money in this vanity project? so far all we've seen about his new toy/pr wheeze is vapourware.

        paris icon 'cos she hasn't gone down deep either.

    2. Elmer Phud


      Branson bleats on about 'saving the planet' yet comes up with some of the most wasteful schemes around.

      F1, private space flights and now doing a Jaques Cousteau.

      Is there no end to this man's one-person drive to make fuel really, really expensive and to use up resources in the most selfish way possible?

      He's a fraud, not much more than a showman selling expensive and upper-class experiences that shit on the rest of us.

      1. Stuart Halliday

        Money is never wasted.

        If you pay for even a seemingly frivolous project. You give money to people. These people learn some new skills which ultimately benefit everyone as knowledge is passed around.

        The wages are used to buy goods and services which other people supply to give themselves a living. And so it trickles down the food chain.

        But surely you know this?

        1. mhenriday
          Thumb Up

          Right, Stuart ; all projects are indeed equal !

          I've been considering starting a chain of schools designed to teach students to manufacture nuclear weapons in their spare time, in the hope that this useful knowledge will, as you say, be «passed around». However, I keep running into people of little faith, who point to such discouraging factors as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and other deal breakers. But given that these things are routinely ignored by both the governments that signed the treaty and those that didn't, I persist in my plans. Thanks so much for your encouragement !...


      2. 88mm a.k.a. Minister for Misbehaviour
        Paris Hilton


        F1 may consume a host of the earth's resources but is enjoyed around the world by a peak audience of 527 million people. The technology developed is probably 2nd only to that created during a large war and has arguably greater trickle-down benefits. Petrol engines are still becoming more efficient each year thanks to F1 developed technology.

        Sure he maybe a showman with questionable PR habits but really, "shit on the rest of us"? He's taken on Murdoch's SKY SHAT and provides the fasted fibre broadband of anyone. Have you flown Virgin Atlantic? Their economy class is almost as good as Air France premium economy and makes BA look like the terrible fat and lazy airline they are.

        He is an example of what capitalism is capable of and who else is going to develop space tech. The UK doesn't even have a space program and the EU's is shit.

        Paris - because at least she has a clue

  3. Steve Crook


    You bet. Of all of Bransons antics, this is the first one that has made me wish I was a multi millionaire with time on my hands.

    Good luck to him.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Not to be negative

    But it does look slightly like a coffin with wings.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      "so much to discover" giant squid with a penchant for carbon, titanium and epoxy :)

      (However I completely agree about how his money is used to drive things forward)

      1. CD001

        "so much to discover"

        Ia Ia Cthulu Fhtagn :)

        1. nichomach



  5. rcdicky
    Thumb Up

    Wish him every success

    As already commented, he's doing something extremely interesting and useful with his money.

    The BBCs Blue Planet series is fascinating, I can't wait to see some of the creatures that could be down there

    The amount of pressure the craft will be under is pretty scary though, as well as money the man sure has guts

    Good luck Branson

    1. David 164

      Hopefully the BBC will produce a other series

      Hopefully if this craft turn out to be successfully, a follow series of blue can be created with the Sub in a starring role.

  6. Kavajo

    April fool


  7. Graham Marsden

    Is anyone else thinking...

    ... SkyDiver: Prepare to launch Sky 1...!

    1. shinanygnz

      Virgin New World Order is coming

      Virgin Galactic and now this... yes see where you're going there. It even mentioned lasers on the sub. He doesn't live in a volcano lair on his island (fortress) does he? :-)

      Seriously, good luck to him. As many others have said, at least he's doing something interesting and worthwhile with his money.

  8. How dare you!

    Were you like me...

    hoping the sub and whale were going to collide and for the sub to explode?



    Got to hand it to RB he really knows how to promote his Brand. It's a lot more expensive than dating a footballer though.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    I wonder what the Lord of This World wants with the deepest points of the Five Oceans...

  10. Inachu

    Sounds cool but I do not like it.

    For shallow diving yes this is awsome but when I think of submarien tech I always think this new tech will let us go deeper and deeper.

    The latest tech for going deeper is making the entire ships hull out of concrete which can withstand more pressure than ordinary metal can. Metal fatigue sets in a certain depths.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Please cite sources

      I've never heard of, say, an ROV with a concrete electronics pod- it's normally titanium and aluminium. Concrete seems like an odd move anyway- any trapped air bubbles would mean it just crumbled under pressure. Plus under repeated loading/unloading I can't imagine it'd be any better than a properly-designed metal shell.

      Not questioning your knowledge or anything, I'm just interested in underwater tech and would like to see who's using concrete for their subs.

      1. Marcus Aurelius

        Concrete Submarines

        Logically enough at

        OK, its only good for 300 feet instead of 30,000, but I'm sure the principle is the same...

        1. 88mm a.k.a. Minister for Misbehaviour
          Paris Hilton


          Dear Sir,

          We are pleased to be able to tell you that you have been accepted into our Concrete RUs Hades Test Pilot Program. Our assessment team noted your positive can-do attitude and we're sure you will go far*.

          Once again Congratulations!


          Paris Hilton CEO - CRUSH Test Pilot Program

          *Well, at least 350 at any rate

  11. Pete 43

    Wonder when...

    the hotel will open

  12. Big Al
    Thumb Up

    Science can be fun

    Work hard, play hard - as Branson himself says, the vessel is experimental, and if anything does go wrong, there won't be much anybody can do about it.

    This is a great tribute to the memory of a fellow adventurer and friend - the Bearded One shows us, yet again, how the super-rich can combine cutting-edge scientific endeavour with a sense of adventure (and, let's be honest here, fun).

    Thumbs up!

  13. David Given


    Isn't this a blatant violation of the Third Benthic Treaty? Do we really *want* the Deep Ones to decide we're violating, and emerge to eat our brains?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon


      Surely they would just pop if they came up to eat us

  14. snellasaurus

    Choice of materials

    Why Carbon and Titanium???

    Great in terms of stiffness and strength to weight. However I would havce though weight is less of an issue in a sub (which no doubt will require ballasting with something to control buoyancy).

    Are there really not materials better suited than aerospace stuff?

    Just wondering - happy to be informed why these really are good choices

    1. Anonymous Coward

      For a start

      it sounds great on a press release.

      Also, they're great under pressure- the pressure housings on deepwater equipment are pretty frequently Titanium. I guess the Carbon Fibre means they can have a good, small craft (which is important when you consider energy consumption and the like).

      Buoyancy wouldn't be a problem- you'd give it a big block to make it slightly positively buoyant (in case of power failure- it just floats to the surface. As you're safely housed in a pressure housing there's no risk of the bends or explosion). Then you 'fly' the craft down using the 'wings' to generate downthrust to counteract the slight positive buoyancy.

      1. Alan Firminger

        Not quite

        Sllght buoyancy means it takes three tears to get to the surface, Better to have a heavy and wet component that can be discarded in emergency. A pressure resistant cabin means that there is no threat of bends.

  15. Gary F
    Thumb Up

    Lovely video in 1080 HD

    This is a beautiful video on a big screen in full HD. I wish Branson and his team the best of luck. We are lucky that he's only of the very few (or only?) mega wealthy entrapreneur who loves pushing science and exploration further and further. Our Government does very little on this front and we should all applaud Branson. He may have an ego the size of a small planet but if that's what drives him and BRITISH science and exploration forward then we can all live with that!

    GO FOR IT!

    My only concern is the shape of the sub. It's more rectangular than tubular and we all know that tubes have a much greater crush depth than any other shape. But I'm sure they know what they're doing! LOL!

  16. james 68


    He's not so much moving tech or engineering forwards as reusing 20 year old tech - the original submersible was designed and made in the early 90's, not that you'd find that out from the press blurb on the whole matter and the only real upgrade is the re-enforced pressure hull added in 2005 - just check it out under its original project name of 'deep flight'

  17. Peter Simpson 1

    3 knots?

    Top speed of 3kts is going to make it hard to maintain position in strong currents, isn't it?

    1. The lone lurker

      I may well be wrong

      At the depths that they are talking about I don't think currents are an issue. If there are currents then surely you'd start at a point that you were interested in and let the current take you to places anew!

  18. Ministry of Truth

    Anyone else read...


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Wot? No depth in proper measure?

    "under 13 million pounds of pressure, the weight of three space shuttles"

    Give it to us in elephants per belgium - much more meaningful.

    And what depth is this marianne faithful trench in olympic swimming pools?

    Sloppy journalism...

  20. Captain Hogwash
    Thumb Up

    Stand by for action...

    ...anything can happen in the next half hour.

  21. Blubster

    will allow it to 'fly' up to 10km over the ocean floor whilst collecting video and data

    Unless it's in the Irish Sea off the coast of Blackpool where it will collect nappies, needles, discarded tampons, used Durex(tm) and all forms of excrement known to man.

  22. Gene Cash Silver badge


    That'll survive 37,000ft? Seriously? It doesn't look likely. And that entire cockpit glass is quartz? How are they going to make it? Not to mention it's going to put the DAAAYUM! in "damned expensive" - it'll make an F1 car look cheap.

  23. Peter Murphy

    And the official soundtrack to the Virgin submersible?

    Whatever it is, it should come from Virgin's back catalogue.

    I suggest the Sex Pistols' "Submission".

  24. Anonymous Coward


    Am I the only one who finds it a bit incongruous that a company named "Virgin" is deeply probing a trench?

  25. TeeCee Gold badge

    Confused me.

    I've always had Branson down as a bit shallow........

  26. solaries

    Onward Virgin Oceanic

    Richard Branson like Elon Musk is pushing the boundaries of exploration we have not been to the deepest part of the Ocean since the Trieste in the sixties over fifty years ago way to go Branson and good luck on your new adventures.

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