Richard Branson Takes on Deep-Ocean Submarine Dives

by Libby Zay 
Posted Apr 5th 2011 12:00 PMUpdated Apr 6th 2011 10:42 AM

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Virgin Oceanic

Billionaire Richard Branson announced today he plans to travel to the deepest parts of the world's five oceans in a single-person submarine, the Virgin Oceanic.

The announcement that Branson and fellow explorer Chris Welch plan to make the series of deep-sea dives over the next two years came today at a press conference at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club on Tony Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach.

The pair will take turns piloting the submarine to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific, the Atlantic's Puerto Rico Trench and South Sandwich Trench, Diamantina Trench in the Indian Ocean and the Molly Deep in the Arctic Ocean.

Along the way, the two explorers plan to set nearly 30 Guinness World Records. Virgin Oceanic will partner with leading scientific institutions to collect data and will use mapping technology from Google.

The adventurer showed off the blue-and-white plane-like submarine that he says will be able to travel for miles over the ocean floor.

Branson also has plans to make a larger submarine that can hold more people and offer trips to tourists – all for a sizeable fee.

A news release sent out yesterday hinted at the Billionaire's newest venture, saying there is only one frontier left for Branson, whose projects have reached "the seven continents of the earth, up into the jet stream and soon, even into space."

A little over a year ago, the British business mogul debuted the Necker Nymph, a three-person submarine capable of diving nearly 100 feet deep. Tourists at Branson's private resort in the Caribbean could rent for $2,500 per day.

Branson has also constructed a $209 million spaceport in New Mexico as part of his space tourism venture. It is expected the first suborbital flights will begin between mid-summer 2011 and spring 2012.


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