Unfathomable Fun: Adding submersibles to the toy box

Nov 22, 2022 by Corey D. Ranslem

Submersibles are the star of the yacht toy box, and rapid evolution is taking the thrill factor to whole new dimensions. 

Yacht toys have evolved rapidly in recent years as owners and charter guests have become increasingly interested in more thrilling, unique experiences. During the Mare Forum at the recent Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, participants were asked to name the up-and-coming innovation that is most likely to bring the biggest change to the industry. The answer for most? Submersibles.

Triton Submarines, founded in 2008 in Florida by Patrick Lahey and Bruce Jones, introduced the first submersible to the large yacht industry: the Triton 1000/2, which dives to 1,000 feet and carries two people. 

“Collectively, the Triton team has more than 400 years of submersible experience on over a hundred different submersibles,” said Hannah Shellenback, of Triton Submarines. Noting that Triton has designed, engineered, and manufactured some of the world’s most advanced submersibles, Shellenback points to the Triton 7500/3, which is the world’s deepest-diving three-person acrylic submersible, and the Triton 36,000/2, which is the world’s first submersible with a nonspherical acrylic hull and the only submersible in the world certified to “Full Ocean Depth.” The 36,000/2 has been to the bottom of the Mariana Trench over 20 times now, Shellenback said. 

Capt. Les Annan has been a submersible pilot for six years. He’s done more than 6,000 scuba dives and is a master diving instructor, so he understands the underwater world and its requirements. He spent two weeks in training at Triton Submarines, including 20 dives with the instructors, theory studies, and both an oral and written exam. 

“I have done over 220 dives as pilot, and I am also a sub tech on the Triton 3300/3 sub,” Annan said. “Safety is a huge component, and the pilot must know what every valve on the sub does and all the backup systems. Triton has spent a lot of time making the sub easy to operate and safe.” 

Annan says the submersible has voice communication with the surface, along with GPS and surface tracking. Air conditioning and music are a plus. Most submersibles use an older, sound-wave technology to communicate with the surface, but according to Shellenback, there are some unique advances coming.

“Triton and Espen Øino International have recently unveiled a unique submersible called Project Hercules, capable of traveling in the range of 8 knots and diving to 200 meters,” Shellenback said. “The submersible’s expansive interior affords lounge seating or daybeds, a minibar, a small day head, and a private pilot cabin. The goal with this model is to change the focus from what’s happening outside the sub and create an intimate and personal experience inside the sub.” 

Triton has also expanded its capabilities to include other leisure industries. The company currently has a 24-passenger submersible working at a resort in Vietnam.

Most submersibles are certified through a Class Society with yearly inspections. Insurance, which stipulates some restrictions, is also required.

Annan said a submersible completely changes the onboard experience for guests.  “The sub opens a whole other part of the world that very few people are ever able to see.  When you do a dive, you will never forget it,” he said. 

“You lose all light in the Bahamas after about 250 meters, so it is like going to the moon or Mars. The sub has a massive lighting system, so you can see everything down there.”