The DeepSee is the biggest and most exciting project so far undertaken by the Undersea Hunter family. This project was made possible due to the support of entrepeneur Steve Drogin. After 1.5 years of futuristic efforts of a group of highly qualified engineers in California this big dream finally came to reality. The initial test phase ended successfully with a dive to 1,500 feet.
May 2005 More than 400 People Tour the DeepSee
More than 400 people toured the DeepSee Sub in San Diego during the month of May. We took the submarine on its brand new trailer to the campus of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, where among others Dr. Charlie Kennel, the director, sat in the cab of the sub. Many other scientists and researchers also toured the sub.
Then, we had a showing at the Scripps Marine Terminal in Pt. Loma for members of the Deep Sea Pilots Association and the Marine Technical Society plus staff members from SpahWars. Another showing was held at the US Navy Base in Coronado.
June 2005 DeepSee Completes First Week of Test Dives in Catalina Island, California
We completed 18 dives, each lasted about 2 hours. The diving was great and the sub preformed superbly. The new video camera works well and so does our new surface tracking system. It allows us to track and talk with the sub constantly and efficiently via acoustic modem. We invited a few world class photographers to take a test dive, Bob Talbot being one of them. Bob was completely overwhelmed with the sub and its filming potential.
August 2005 DeepSee Arrives to Costa Rica
It took us a few days to get her out of customs, but on Aug. 12 DeepSee finally arrived to our pier, just in time for her first trip to Cocos. Pictured is the first time DeepSee was loaded on to the specially constructed sub platform on the Sea Hunter.
August 2005 First DeepSee Trip to Cocos On-board the Sea Hunter
DeepSee made her first dives at Cocos during the Aug. 15-25 trip on the Sea Hunter. This was a special training and testing trip, and we were joined by an excellent group of repeat passengers from Mexico.
Initial dives took her down to 80 meters, and we plan to go further down on future trips. The lucky few who got to try DeepSee during this trip still can't stop talking about it. At 80 meters we saw some species we have never previously seen at Cocos.
We were pleased to notice that DeepSee blended in with the surrounding environment as the marine life largely ignored her, allowing us to get a closer look at many of them. It was also a pleasure to see how well DeepSee handles as we could navigate just a few feet over the rocks, causing no disturbance at all.
October 2005 The Depths of Cocos Were Explored for the First Time Ever!!
For the first time ever the depths of Cocos were explored thanks to DeepSee. These are the first impressions of Steve Drogin, the primary owner of DeepSee, after the first deep dives at Cocos which took place the second week of October:
"At Cocos we found the edge of an abyss at about 216 meters. We went straight down facing the wall to 307 meters. The wall was full of life. What a thrill to look up at about 750 feet into a very pale blue and dim light and see 5 mobulas pass over the dome. WOW!!"
During 17 days at Cocos we performed 67 deep dives between 300 and 1,500 feet (90
During back-to-back trips with 22 long days of intense non-stop training, 5 pilots completed the pilot course for DeepSee. The new pilots are owners Avi Klapfer and Yosy Naaman, as well as Shmulik Blum, Ofer Ketter and Nico Ghersinich.
Both trips were comfortably hosted onboard the Undersea Hunter. The next planned submersible expedition is scheduled for Dec. 8-18 when we will be taking out a Discovery Channel film crew.
January 2006 DeepSee Finds Several Deep Water Sharks!!!
During our last expedition on the Sea Hunter Dec. 23 05 - Jan. 4, 06 we encountered several Prickly Sharks (Echinirhinos cookei) in a new deep area that we named "The Canyons". We found them at depths between 185 meters down to 380 meters. This is the first time that this shark has been seen at Cocos and one of the few times ever that it has been seen in its habitat.
March 2006 DeepSee Operation at Cocos Island Goes Commercial
Deep dive excursions onboard DeepSee are now available for guests on board our vessels. It is usually based on the Sea Hunter, but it will also be available for Undersea Hunter guests when both vessels are at Cocos Island at the same time. DeepSee can perform three dives per day which will take place at similar times as our regular Scuba dives.
June 2006 DeepSee completes 250th dive at Cocos
During the past two months DeepSee successfully completed her 250th dive at Cocos Island.
On previous expeditions we had occasional encounters with solitary, large deep-water sharks, Echinorhinus Cookei, also known as the prickly shark. On our most recent trips we found an area around 300 meters (1,000 feet) where these sharks seem to congregate and we saw several of them on almost every dive at this site. On several of these dives we were accompanied by professional underwater photographer Werner Thiele.
DeepSee is celebrating in these days her first year of operations, the completion of 270 dives during this time, and the very successful annual inspection by the head of engineering from SeaMagine, the company that built our submersible.
During two weeks of hard non-stop work, every single part of DeepSee was taken apart, inspected, serviced and finally tested.
Now DeepSee is already back onboard the Sea Hunter diving at Cocos Island.
During our last expedition with DeepSee on the Sea Hunter Aug 20-30, 06 we encountered for the first time a big Sand Tiger Shark at a depth of 95 meters in an area around "The Everest" seamount. This encounter confirms the presence at Cocos of this beautiful shark after a couple of sporadic sightings from great distances in the last 10 years. This is the first time that this shark has been seen close enough to be filmed at Cocos.
August 2006 DeepSee celebrates first year of operations and completion of 270 dives
September 2006 DeepSee found another species of deep water shark!!
September 2006 ARGO is the new DeepSee Support Vessel
Argo is receiving a deep refurbishing by our specialized personnel at our facilities in Puntarenas. This first phase of work will finish on October 10th when Argos will sail to Cocos with a French film crew for her first project hosting onboard our submersible DeepSee.
October 2006 ARGO completes her first trip
Argos, our new project vessel, has completed her first trip to Cocos Island, hosting the DeepSee submersible and Ushuaia film crew. The film crew used DeepSee's special features to capture deep sea scenes around the island.
In mid-November, the Argos will host the DeepSee submersible on a trip to Cocos Island for 2 weeks of intensive training for our new DeepSee pilots. From there the Argos will continue her refurbishing in Panama for 3 weeks.
Her next trip to Cocos Island hosting the DeepSee submersible will take place in early 2007.
February 2007 New DeepSee Discoveries at Cocos
In January and February our new support vessel Argos hosted 2 exclusive DeepSee trips together with our long term partner Steve Drogin. The trips were mainly assigned for exploring the uncharted parts of Cocos Island with the DeepSee submersible. We concentrated on exploring new sections on the south side of the island.
Accompanied by world class marine biologists John McCosker and Gary C. Williams from the California Academy of Sciences, we found an amazing variety of new endemic corals, fish and eels. Both scientists were amazed with the amount of sea life and the variety of species.
One of the highlights of our exploration was the discovery of a beautiful arch structure at the depth of 300 feet, full of crabs, fish and even more... the elusive Ragged Tooth Shark. During our repeated dives to the area of the arch we encountered 6 different individual sharks ranging in size from 9 to 12 feet.
After 20 days at sea, Argos is back home in Puntarenas to complete her refitting and maintenance to become a high class support vessel for the DeepSee submersible.
July 2007 DeepSee Observes Whalesharks for the First Time
Recently we had a very exciting experience during a Sea Hunter trip to Cocos Island. On a morning dive the DeepSee submersible spent one hour with a whale shark at 50 meters (165 feet). This was the first time we had observed a whaleshark with the sub, let alone for that length of time. Later in the trip we hit the jackpot for a second time as we observed the same whaleshark again from DeepSee, and some of our passengers on scuba also got to see it at a different dive site. I guess you can say this particular whaleshark was craving for some attention.
On the most recent trip to Cocos we were lucky enough to have yet another whaleshark encounter with DeepSee.
April 2008 DeepSee Adds Robotic Arm
Last week we were hard at work, together with the engineers who designed DeepSee, installing a new manipulator arm for the sub. (What is a manipulator arm? It is a very sophisticated robotic arm that can move like a human arm and has the ability to move equipment or pick up objects from the ocean floor.) The arm is operated from inside the cabin by the pilot and will be used for special scientific and filming expeditions.
In addition we have completed the annual maintenance and the ABS (American Bureau Of Shipping) inspection to the satisfaction of the inspector. The ABS is the agency that certifies DeepSee to the highest standards of design, maintenance and overall safety.
On May 1, DeepSee will be ready to explore Malpelo Island for the first time with a French film crew in order to document the hidden treasures of this remote island.
DeepSee you soon...
September 2008 Mike deGruy Explores the Sea of Cortez on DEEPSEE
I was invited to join Steve Drogin and Avi Klapfer's new alliance, the 120 foot M/V Argo with its resident 3-man submersible, DeepSee. I have known Steve for many years and also have chartered Avi's superb vessels in Costa Rica and know each of these men to share a common interest: high quality diving. So it was with great interest and high expectations that I joined their collaborative venture into the world of submersible operations. And did they ever deliver! Admittedly, I was a tad skeptical as I arrived on the Argo after all, I had been in Alvin, Johnson Sea Link, both single and double Deep Rovers, Deep Workers, Star II, Perry, Pisces, the MIRs you get the idea. I had reasons to be a little bit spoiled and even snooty at this new tourist sub that Steve and Avi had created. And built by a company whose subs went no deeper than 100 feet or so and the bloody pilot was in scuba gear outside! Preposterous! This new sub will surely be a joke for any real work!
Once again I was reminded to enter situations with eyes wide open and check the presumptions and prejudices at the door. What sat neatly in front of me was a beautiful submersible no facsimile, definitely the real thing. I carefully walked around the DeepSee, looking for the shortcuts; the plastic where the Titanium belonged, the gaffers tape and chewing gum sealing gaps, something to give away a newcomers approach to sub building but I saw none of this. DeepSee is the real thing, a robust and cleverly designed submersible capable of taking 3 people down to 1500 feet in extraordinary comfort and safety. It has the latest communication and navigation equipment and is brimming with top notch lighting, video and still cameras. Did I mention comfort? I have not been down in a submersible as comfortable as this one.
Finally, it was time to dive. Steve had told me about a discovery they had made, something that no one had ever seen in the Sea of Cortez, a hydrothermal vent at 450 feet. The Chief Pilot and man in charge of the sub, Shmulik Blum, was to be my pilot and Avi went along to help answer any logistical questions I may have as he knew my agenda on this trip was as much to assess the feasibility of using this new operation in a future project as my desire to dive a sub in the Sea of Cortez. So, here I was with the A team. The Argo anchored about 1 mile away from dive site. Using the massive A-frame at the stern of Argo they deftly lifted the DeepSee off the deck and dropped it into the Utility Bay at the stern, created by building two narrow 22 ft. sections on either end of the stern creating a calm U-shaped bay between the added sections of the hull. Here the DeepSee floated awaiting our easy step-in. Soon I was seated in a very comfortable chair with ample legroom to shift and stretch during the dive. Avi sat next to me at the same level and Shmulik, the pilot, was slightly below, behind and between us with the operating electronics directly in front of him. The 6-foot acrylic dome (3.3 in. thick) was lowered over us and we were away.
The DeepSee is unique. Most submersibles are, well, submersibles; DeepSee seems to be somewhat of a hybrid, operating like a sluggish boat motoring along the surface with the passengers high above the water and only when they reach the dive site will they empty the huge bladders of air holding them up and become a submarine. And in the same length of time it has taken me to write this sentence, we were dropping below the surface; our dive had officially begun.
They had asked me to write a paragraph of my experience and here I am on page 2. That should suggest 2 things: I am (more than) happy to oblige, and I have a lot to say about this operation. But back to the dive it was perfect. All systems operated flawlessly and we were able to spend several hours moving up, down and across an area seen only by 4 eyes prior to me. And such is the Deep, always revealing new things. And such is the Argo / DeepSee operation; giving people unique opportunities, the rare chance in life to truly discover new things, see animals and landscapes never seen by anyone before. In our overpopulated, overdeveloped world, these chances are becoming fewer and fewer and I for one am thrilled to have been part of this one. Thank you Steve, Avi, Shmulik and the entire Argo and DeepSee team for what I will remember the rest of my life as an incredible voyage to Deep Mexico!