Deep-Sea Sub Vanishes 6 Miles Down
Scientists believe the Nereus imploded due to the pressure
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2014 9:00 AM CDT
This handout photo, taken in 2009 by the unmanned submersible Nereus, shows the flat bottom of the Mariana Trench with a stalked anemone on rocks on the edge.   (AP Photo/Tim Shank, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

(Newser) – Some 6.2 miles below the surface of the Pacific, tragedy very likely struck. What the BBC describes as one of the "most capable deep-sea research subs" in existence has vanished—and likely imploded. The $8 million Nereus was in the Kermadec Trench northeast of New Zealand, among the world's deepest spots, when it went missing on Saturday afternoon. Debris found at the surface indicates that at least part of the hybrid remotely operated vehicle likely imploded under pressure as great as 16,000 pounds per square inch.

A press release from the Cape Cod-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that built and operated the vehicle explains that researchers aboard the Thomas G. Thompson lost contact with the Nereus during a planned nine-hour dive of the deepest extent of the trench. The debris spotted by the ship will be analyzed to verify its source and to attempt to find clues in the Nereus' demise. Among the standout details of the vehicle, which was built in 2008: It is one of just four submersibles to ever reach the deepest part of the ocean in the Mariana Trench; it has collected specimens of animals previously unknown to science; and it explored the world's deepest known hydrothermal vents along the Caribbean's Cayman Rise. The Cape Cod Times notes it's not the first loss WHOI has suffered: Nereus predecessor ABE vanished—without a trace—off the coast of Chile in March 2010.

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Showing 3 of 36 comments
baron_von_butthole
May 12, 2014 6:20 PM CDT
Am I the only one overlooking the obvious here? A tiny submersible sub imploded six miles down, and they found debris floating. But they still have not found any indication of a 777 airliner that supposedly went down in the same ocean and was searched for by 26 countries with sonar, radar, and satellite imaging, LOL. Something stinks to high heaven!
K.C.
May 12, 2014 3:44 PM CDT
Too bad but I'm glad no lives were lost. As I get older, I've noticed I seem to have developed claustrophobia. Strange the things you find out as time goes by.
milhousemn
May 12, 2014 1:39 PM CDT
Hardly a tragedy. Disappointing, sure, but not unprecedented and nobody was injured, so...