A Personal Submarine is a new recreational luxury toy for super rich. These days people started living in luxury, which obviously is a good thing. Rich people do spend a lot of money and let themselves experience the bliss of life with their family. To experience and explore the underwater world, rich people are buying personal submarines, one of the latest recreational toys.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
What is a personal submarine?
Personal submarines are those submarines which are owned by some person as a personal property (and not owned by a government or any public organization). They are usually used for recreational underwater experience, exploration, or sometimes for scientific research. They are usually small in size and sometimes called as mini submarines. Their capacity ranges from 1 person to 25+ persons. Usually, 5-9 seater submarines are used for research purpose, and submarines with higher capacity are used for tourism purpose.
History of Personal Submarines?
History of personal submarines is bit unknown. In 1996, an Internet based society named Personal Submersibles Organization (PSUBS) was formed which was recognized as an authority to promote discussion and sharing of information relative to the safe design, fabrication, and operation of small privately owned manned/unmanned submarines for recreational use. Here is a full reference.
The history of submarines (not personal submarines; but submarines in all) is about 5 centuries old. The roots of personal submarines can be found in early 16th century in an Islamic painting depicting Alexander the Great being lowered in a glass submersible.
In 1578, the Englishman, William Bourne, designed one of the first prototype submarines.
In 1605, the first submersible was constructed Magnus Pegelius.
In 1720, Russia built the first military submarine which was armed with “fire tubes”, weapons akin to flame-throwers. In 1716, American military submarine, Turtle, arrived.
In 1866, German-American engineer Julius H. Kroehl drives the first fully equipped, heavyweight (80 tons) submarine successfully below the water surface and emerge back on its own. Read the history of submarines in detail.
The very first record was made by Graham Hawkes, owner of DeepFlight company which has engineered and manufactured one of the most trusted personal submarines in the world (trusted by Richard Branson to dive down to Mariana trench, the deepest part of the world’s oceans), in the year 1985 by diving in the sea 914 meters (2,999 feets) from sea surface level.
Next, two records were made by James Cameron, the famous Canadian film director, by driving 8,166 meters (26,791 ft) on 6 March 2012 and 10,898 meters (35,755 ft) on 26 March 2012 by diving to the deepest point on Earth, Mariana Trench.
Why Should Capable One Buy or Hire Personal Submarine?
Well, the answer to this is a bit spiritual as well as philosophical. And that the very reason of having the topic of luxuries life in this website CosmicMe.com. As per my understanding of life, we have 4 gods given responsibilities i.e. towards ourselves, towards our relationships, towards society, and towards our mother nature. And in order to fulfill these responsibilities, we have to have some money. Hence, we got one more responsibility to earn money. [The main categories of this websites are made accordingly].
We must do our best to fulfill these responsibilities with our best acumen and skills. When it comes to responsibility towards ourselves and relatives then we must make ourselves and relatives happy to the fullest. Those we can spend millions of dollars on personal happiness and entertainment then they should do it. They deserve the wide range of experiences including space traveling and deep sea diving. This is our only life and only chance to live life the best. Hence, the capable one must experience the luxury of personal submarines too.
Depending on your personal choice, budget, and requirements you can pick right one for yourself. Below are different classifications-
Classification of Personal Submarines Based on CAPACITY
As said above, personal submarines are available in different capacities from single seat up to 25+ seats. The most popular ones are 1-Man, 2-Man, 3-Man and 4-Man submarines. These small subs are used for the personal recreational purpose. Beyond 4 seater, they are usually used for research and tourism purpose.
Classification of Personal Submarines Based on LOOKS
Every submersible company launches its subs with different and unique looks. But there are few very attractive looks available which deserve to talk about, here. Some of them are NOT available in the market.
1. Dolphin, Shark, or Killer Whale-Inspired Personal Submarines
The looks are like a dolphin and generally come in the category of small submarines as they are either 1-man or to the most 2-man submarines. With this submarine, it’s not only about looks, but also about the experience of dolphin-like swimming, jumping, and diving in the water. This is to give you a complete dolphin, shark or killer whale experience. Must watch this video.
2. The Seabreacher Sailfish
This is similar to dolphin inspired personal submarine with a difference in looks and movements it can do.
3. James Bond Submarine Car
I hope you remember the submarine care scene in the James Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me”. This is highly desired private submarine from The U-Boat Worx to give you the opportunity to dive deeper.
4. Mini Submarine Underwater Scooter Excursion
They are easy to operate, no prior experience is required, safe and simple mini-submarine to provide an awesome underwater experience mixed with the experience of bike riding.
5. The Exosuit Diving Suit Wearable Submarine
The other name given to this submarine is… “Underwater Iron Man”. This is a human suit which has capabilities of a submarine and has the ability to stay underwater for a long time without worrying about oxygen quantity and decomposition.
Classification of Personal Submarines Based on USAGE
The purpose is the primary base of picking right submarine. Personal submarines serves few purposes such as-
1. Recreational personal submarines
When recreation is the only purpose then small submarines are the right ones. From single occupant to 4 occupants submarines serves this purpose. The most popular ones are 2 and 3 seater submarines. When we talk about personal submarines, then the prime thing that comes to mind is recreation. Those who are capable of making themselves happy and satisfied with underwater recreation must go for it. The most popular recreational submarines are from DeepFlight, and they are DeepFlight Super Falcon, DeepFlight Super Falcon 3S, and DeepFlight Dragon.
2. Personal Submarines for Sea Exploration
Obviously, every submarine is there for exploring the underwater world. But when it is strictly exploration, then it means diving deep into the sea. When we talk about recreation than going few hundred meters deep in the ocean is fine. And when we talk about exploration then the submarine should be capable of diving deep to several thousands of meters. This requires a lot of enhanced security and capability features in the submarines. The most commonly used submarines for exploration are from DeepFlight and Triton.
3. Personal Submarines for Research
These are bit bigger submarines and are capable of carrying a crew of as many as 9 persons. Custom submarines can be designed to carry even more persons (sometimes as many as 15 people). These submarines may have additional features such as robotic arms to perform certain work in the sea (like taking samples of plants, soil, etc.), ability to let researchers come out of the submarine and then go back inside it, etc. The submarines used for research are generally owned by an organization such as discovery channel, national geographic channel etc. These submarines are most capable submarines and are able to go as deep as Mariana Trench. The submarine used by John Cameron to dive into the Mariana Trench was Deepsea Challenger.
Brands/Manufacturers of Personal Submarines
When we are discussing everything about private submarines and doing their classifications then we should at least consider a mention of important brands.
When it comes to personal submarines then the first brand name comes in mind is DeepFlight. They are manufacturing recreational submersible since 1996. The company is owned by world-renowned engineer Graham Hawkes, who made first world record to dive 2999 feets down in the ocean, and Karen Hawkes. The private submarine models they offer are DeepFlight Super Falcon, DeepFlight Super Falcon 3S, and DeepFlight Dragon. These models are best in class and most advanced in term of efficiency and safety.
This is a sister company of DeepFlight which specialize in consumer submarines and owned by Graham Hawkes. Hawkes Ocean Technologies (HOT) has designed and manufactured few most popular personal submarines such as — (a) DeepFlight Challenger, which was used by John Cameron to make world record to reach Mariana Trench, (b) Necker Nymph, the private submarine of famous multimillionaire Richard Branson.
Triton is the company of The U.S. Submarine Group that builds luxury deep submersibles. Triton has a great success story of over 300+ years in the era of submarines, which is no doubt, a great thing for them. They offer personal submarines for leisure, scientific researchers, producing documentary and films, and exploration, collection, and archaeological analysis purpose. They also offer a wide range of submarine accessories which can increase the usage of submarines even more. Triton submersible are popular for their safety
The company was founded in 1905 on Adeline Street in West Oakland and working as a ship repair and shipbuilding company. The famous model, Proteus, is designed and built by the Moore Dry Dock Company.
Migaloo is better known for Migaloo Private Submersible Yachts. Migaloo submarines offer the concept of luxury superyacht that which is actually a submarine. These luxury submersible superyachts come with optional amenities that include helipads, movie theaters, swimming pools, wine cellars, elevators, libraries, and private terraces. Migaloo Submarines is also known for KOKOMO AILAND which is a private floating habitat based on existing semi-submersible platforms. KOKOMO AILAND is known for bespoke luxury and design, incomparable features and entertainment, state of the art megayacht amenities, and the flair of an exotic island. What a great thing they have made. Must watch this video.
Spymaster is the trading name of Communications and Surveillance Systems Limited. Spymaster is a best-equipped spy shop which provides a wide range of surveillance, counter-surveillance, personal protection and security related equipment. The reason for which Spymaster got its position in the list of submarine Manufacturer is “Spymaster MiniSub” which is a one-man submarine designed for spying and inspecting up to 12 meters under the water.
Don’t confuse U-Boat Worx with the German U-Boat company which manufactures submarines for only military use. U-Boat Worx is Netherlands company which design and manufacture submarines for the recreational and exploration purposes only. Now, it has offices in France, United States, and the United Kingdom under different names. U-Boat Worx personal submarines are known for their unparalleled comfort, clearest view, total safety, effortless control, unrivaled mission adaptability, ever-ready, carefree launch and recovery, great maneuverability and speed, endless diving, and uncompromisable surface capabilities. This is all one need from any underwater vehicle.
SportSub specialized themselves with 3 pretty awesome personal submarines. These are 3 Person SportSub, 3 Person ResortSub, and 3 Person YachtSub (SportSub III SS). They are into existence since 1987. SportSub has refined their products to match today’s standards in terms of security, luxury, and experience. Their submersibles were also used to patrol water sports in Olympic games.
This brand is known for semi-submarines i.e. half portion of the vehicle works as water surface boat and half portion works as a submarine. These semi-submarines are designed to experience both water surface as well as underwater exploration. The brand came into existence in the year 1997. The major achievements begged by ego are Shanghai International Boat Show, Miami International Boat show, and REDDOT Design award.
The company is known with two names Nautilus Submarines & Diving Systems and Brownie’s YachtDiver. Under name Nautilus Submarines & Diving Systems, the company offers a popular submarine with the name called “Nautilus VAS Submarine”. It is the ONLY private submarine that hosts a toilet, stairs, minibar, digital video and music players with enough room to stand up freely. It can hold up to five passengers and can stay in the water for 4 days. Under name Brownie’s YachtDiver, the company offers a wide range of accessories such as Rebreathers, Riffe, Third Lung, Scubapro, 4 types of scooters, Wide range of Toys, Tank Fill, Medical kits and 4-5 services.
The Dolphin, Shark, or Killer Whale-Inspired Personal Submarines are offered by this very company. The company focus on making of sports submarines which can do amazing aquabatic tricks like jumping, diving, rolling, porpoising etc. with all safety and comfort of a dry and sealed cockpit. There are 17 authorized dealers of the company located in different parts of the country so their amazing products can reach to every corner of the world.
The company is operational in Mauritius and all Indian Ocean. Basically, the company is well known for 3 awesome personal submarines – (a) BS1100, a 10-seater submarine greatly used for tourism, research, and exploration. (b) BS600, a 5-seater submarine with a huge, panoramic window used for couples, families and special occasion trips. (c) SubScooters, which are mini-submarines, and the company offers under the name Blue Subtech.
DOER is into existence since 1992 as Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, a marine consulting firm.It has two models of personal submarines, HOV 1000 (HOV=human occupied vehicle), and Reef Rover.The company is also known for the remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV).
Kemp Marine offers personal submarines for super yachts. These private submarines are recreational purpose and kind of exclusive submarines in terms of luxury, technology, and safety. Those their submarines are for leisure purpose but robotic arms are attached to the submarines so that passengers can pick up objects on the sea surface. The popular private subs from Kemp Marine is SM300/3 Submarine. This is a 3 passenger submarine high-performance submarine designed for various operations in all waters. It is fully equipped with performance underwater research and recreational activities. Besides robotic arm, this submarine can also be equipped with a fish feeder, or various other additional functionalities, such as digital video camera, stereos, remotely operated vehicle, etc.
MSubs is into existence since 1986 and is designing and constructing Manned submersibles, unmanned vehicles, equipment, and components. The manned submersibles are used for personal recreation, tourism, swimmer delivery, scientific research, and rescue. The company is well known for manufacturing world’s largest unmanned sea-going submarines.
SEAMagine is one of the most popular brands for small personal submarines that designed for luxury superyachts. SEAMagine is always been talked in news and media for one or the other reason. The technology they use is of highest engineering standards and keep a dedicated focus on safety, utility, superior design, quality construction, reliability and long-term support. SEAMagine has 2 person model to 5 occupant model and each model has the capability to dive thousands of meter deep in the ocean.
Silvercrest specializes in manned submarine operations. The company is almost everywhere including underwater leisure activities, tourism, research, filming, and commercial activities. The company offers a wide range of personal submarines from single manned submarine to 24-man tourist submarine. Recently they constructed mobile Underwater Bar for their international clients. They also have few ROVs as well.
SUBEO Ltd. is operational since 1993 and well known for the small state-of-the-art personal submarine. The name they have given to their popular 3 seater submarine is “Gemini”. It can dive up to 100 meters with a maximum speed of 7 knots. This small submarine is well equipped with emergency systems, life support, life support instrumentation, communication facility, audio-video facility, an underwater navigation system, forward looking sonar, and wide range of ability and condition readers.
Personal Submarines that are Unique
There are scores of personal submarines which are not available unique and in many cases, a just single piece on the Earth. Many manufacturers have designed and constructed many private submarines which are exclusive for a particular museum (eg- Silvercrest’s wooden submarine for military exhibition), a particular person (eg- Necker Nymph of Richard Branson), particular branding campaign (eg- Exosuit Diving Suit Wearable Submarine), and more. In order to list down all personal submarines which you can buy, we have designed a dedicated page HERE.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Generally, those people who take a little extra interest in private submarines and intent to own one, have many questions to ask. So, below are the most frequently asked questions and their answers-
How deep can a personal submarine go?
Well, they come in wide range of their capacities based on their usage. Some of them are single person recreational subs and can go a just couple of feets (eg- whale-inspired submarine) and some can go as deep as Mariana Trench. Generally, recreational and tourism submarines are designed to do up to few hundreds of meters deep in the ocean (somewhere between 100 meters to 500 meters). Those submarines which are used for exploration and research can do several thousand meters deep in the ocean (somewhere between 1000 meters to 11,000 meters i.e. Mariana Trench). So, it completely depends on the preference of the owner and usage.
How much is a personal submarine worth/cost?
The word “Worth” is a big thing. Most of the times, we just cannot calculate the worth of an even smallest thing. What is the worth of a lifesaver jacket? The worth of a lifesaver jacket is equal to the worth of all people that jacket has saved before it retires. Its price could be $20 or $200, but its worth is huge. Right? Similarly, the worth of personal submarines is also huge. It gives an opportunity to experience underwater world, it gives tons of pleasure in doing so. The pleasure is for the owner as well as his/her family which is of very high worth. These private submersible give an opportunity to do scientific research. God knows which underwater research can be proved as planet saver! Or it throws some light on new medications for terminal diseases. How much worth should one calculate for this opportunity? So, worth cannot be calculated in terms of dollars; it is the matter of how you perceive things.
But when it comes to cost or prices, then everything has some market value. Some subs are available at as low prices as $12000 (like the Spymaster MiniSub) and some costs as high as several hundred million us dollars. But a fairly good recreational submarine, with a capacity of 2-3 persons which can go few hundred meters deep in the ocean, costs $1 Million to $3 Million US dollars. Like- DeepFlight Super Falcon 3S costs $2 Million USD. There are more submarines which are like a mega yacht and can cost in Billion USD. More Information on their prices, comparisons, and features is available here.
How to make/build a personal submarine?
In order to make your own personal submarine, you need to first understand the basic concept of how a submarine works. So, let’s first understand…
How does submarine work?
A Submarine has a sleek cigar-shaped body that enables it to move swiftly underwater. Pressure Hull made up of high strength metal contains the submarine crew, machine, and equipment/weapons preventing them from getting crushed by the pressure of water at deep depth.
Main Ballast Tanks usually located at the bow and stern of the submarine are generally not surrounded by pressure hull. In order to dive into the water, the main ballast tanks are flooded with the sea water. The added weight made the submarine to lose its ability to stay on the surface of the water and it submerges.
Movable surfaces, which are used to control the movements of submarines under the water, are called “Diving Planes” (Horizontal surfaces) and “Rudders” (Vertical surfaces). Both diving planes and rudders are located at the stern, and additional diving planes are located at bow and sail structure. To dive, the diving planes at the stern are tilted down. And as the submarine move forward, the flowing water over the tilted diving plans causes its motion toward downward. The rudders steer the submarine. They are moved right or left to change the submarine course. To lift the submarine upwards the angle of diving planes are angled up. The diving plans at bow and sail structure are used to keep the submarine at the precise depth. To come back to the surface, the water is blown out from the ballast tanks using compressed air. The graphical representation is given in this video-
Technical Terms and Systems
In order to understand the making of a personal submarine, you have to understand few key technical terms, technical systems, and how these technical systems work. Below are few such terms and systems-
- Diving and Surfacing – “Diving” means the downward movement of the submarine, and ‘Surfacing’ is the upward movement of the submarine to the surface of the water. As explained in ‘how does submarines work’, the diving and surfacing are caused by diving planes and rudders.
- Buoyant Force – Buoyant force is the upward force exerted on objects submerged in the water or other liquid. The reason behind this buoyant force is the water pressure difference at the lower part (bottom) and the upper part (top) of the submerged object. You can feel it while trying diving down to the bottom of a swimming pool. If you can regulate this buoyant force then you can control diving and surfacing. The regulation of the buoyant force is done by adding and removing weight to and from the object. And this addition and subtraction of weight are generally done by taking some water inside the submarine and then getting that water out from the submarine.
Neutral Buoyancy is the state when the density of a submarine and the surrounding water is equal. This is the situation the submarine neither go downwards nor go upwards. This situation is created to set a set depth of the submarine.
Negative Buoyancy is the state when the density of a submarine is more than the surrounding water and in this case, the submarine goes downwards.
Positive Buoyancy is the state when the density of a submarine is less than the surrounding water and in this case, the submarine goes upwards.
- Hydroplanes – These are the fin-like surfaces attached at the bow and stern of the submarines. The diving plane and rudders. These surfaces enable a moving submarine to rise or fall in the water.
- Starboard and Port – The starboard and port are nautical terms used for right-hand side and left-hand side of the submarine respectively.
- Secondary Propulsion Motor – It is the second engine, that can swivel 360 degrees, used for controlling the upwards, downwards, left and right motions of the submarine.
- Scrubbers – When the submarine is underwater then, with every breath of the passengers, the level of carbon dioxide increases and level of oxygen decreases. If you want to stay longer under the water then, the extra carbon dioxide has to be removed from the sealed chamber. Scrubbers are those devices which eliminate carbon dioxide from the chamber using soda lime (sodium hydroxide and calcium hydroxide). This is a very important device to install.
- Electrolysis – It is the device which generates oxygen from the water. This is a must thing to install in any submarine.
- Distillation Apparatus – This is the device which takes the ocean water and produces fresh water. The production of fresh water is important when you need to stay underwater for several days. This freshwater is generally used to keep the electronic parts of the submarine cool and supporting passengers (drinking, cooking etc.)
- Dehumidifier – The temperature underwater is low and that causes moisture of the chamber condense on the inner walls and equipment and everywhere inside the chamber. The dehumidifier is the device which removes the moisture from the chamber and keeps it dry. Again an important device to install.
- Thermostat – As the submarines go down deep in the ocean, the temperature of surrounding water drops very fast. This makes the temperature of inner chambers cool and sometimes unbearable. In order to keep the inner atmosphere warm a diesel engine is used and to regulate the temperature, the thermostat is used.
- Global positioning system (GPS) and Inertial Guidance Systems (IGS) – The navigational equipment used when a submarine is at the surface of the water is called GPS and the navigational equipment used when it is underwater is called IGS. These are critically important devices to install.
Power Supply and Overall Working
Power Supply is the first thing. Though it depends on size and type of submarine, but generally, there is 3 sources of power supply– (a) Large bank of Batteries, (b) Diesel Generators (2 or more), and (c) Nuclear Reactor. There are 2 or more diesel generators are used; one DG provides a dedicated power supply to propellers and another one continuously recharge the large bank of batteries (these days lithium batteries are in use). Then these batteries are used to give power supply to the rest of the submarine including different devices and equipment.
The control system of submarine requires control system of Turbine, Hydroplanes, and Blastic tanks. Depending on size and type of your choice, you can customize the power supply. When we are talking about homemade personal submarine then it is quite obvious nuclear reactor as a source of the power supply cannot be considered. All you can do is… keep two diesel generators; one for the main propeller and another one to support electronic equipment, devices, and temperature regulation. Besides power supply, you need to have good control over navigation system, so installation of GPS and IGS is important.
Understanding Life Support
The main focus areas of life-support are maintaining –(a) the air quality, (b) a fresh water supply, and (c) temperature.
The quantity of oxygen in the air we breath is 21% and carbon dioxide is 0.04%. Rest is nitrogen and argon. The gasses which you need to control are oxygen and carbon dioxide. And you can regulate their quantity by using Scrubbers (for carbon dioxide) and Electrolysis (for oxygen). For oxygen, you can carry oxygen cylinders which can support you for few hours. When we talk about the quality of air then humidity is also included. So, you need a dehumidifier to remove extra moisture.
As said above, you can continuously generate fresh water from sea water using distillation apparatus. If you are planning to have small submarine which can stay underwater for few hours then you can carry few fresh water bottles.
When it comes to maintaining the right temperature then you need to produce heat inside the sealed chamber because temperature underwater is always low (sometimes it is as low as 4-degree celsius). You can always generate heat by using the second generator. And can use batteries as the last option. Life support system is must to consider as this is the only way to make your underwater journey enjoyable.
Security Concerns and Rescue System
When submarine goes down then there are hundreds of reason to get killed. Failure of any one or more life support systems, accident, higher water pressure than bearable, power system failure and god knows what else can put life in danger. John Cameron has listed the ways one can die while going to Mariana Trench and said there are hundreds of reason to die underwater.
There are two main ways to survive in case of any trouble – (a) self-survival and (b) rescue team. Your personal submarine must be fully tested (several tests for endurance and survival) before going underwater live. It must have a necessary backup plan, i.e. extra oxygen cylinder, full diving kit, first aid box, additional communication and navigation system etc. If your communication is on then you can put the rescue team on the surface active. Usually, the rescue task is done via Deep-Submergence Rescue Vehicles (DSRV) and diving bells which are small submarines designed for just rescue tasks.