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Sir Richard Branson and Chris Welsh with the VOE sub

Photo by Mark Greenberg

Hawkes sub team

The Hawkes team in front of the DeepFlight Challenger sub.
Credit: Hawkes Ocean Technologies

/ Mission

Virgin believes that the Oceans offer exciting possibilities for human exploration and scientific research.  Our vision through Virgin Oceanic is to explore the possibilities of enabling adventurers and pioneers to participate in oceanic exploration.
If we are successful in our mission with this innovative design of submarine, then we will have proven that a vehicle can be built to withstand the extreme pressures of the oceans and that it is possible to take humans at far reduced risks to the bottom of our Oceans. This submarine will likely finish its days on display in a museum but if we can prove the design, Virgin may explore the possibility of future missions involving other submarines that can collect samples and facilitate science and research. When we have evolved our capacity for exploration, we will unlock opportunities to discover vast areas of our planet that we currently have no knowledge of. This is our vision.


Fantastic new technologies and materials harnessed within the design and construction of the submarine, make it possible to push the boundaries of human experience.  The two greatest challenges to human exploration of the deep oceans are pressures of over 1,000 atmospheres (approximately the equivalent of 8000 elephants standing on a Mini-Cooper) and the extreme cold (just slightly above freezing).  Not only is this submersible capable of withstanding both of these extremes, but its built-in cost efficiencies make extensive deep water “flights” much more accessible, bringing science and wonder ever closer, which is what Virgin Oceanic is all about.


But why send people instead of robots to the bottom of the oceans?  As Stephen Hawking said:

Humans are an adventurous species. We like to explore and are inspired by journeys to the unknown. Science is not only a disciple of reason but, also, one of romance and passion. Exploration by real people inspires us.

Imagine if you could pilot a submarine anywhere in the ocean – crushing pressures and freezing temperatures no longer an obstacle to your journey.  Where would you go?  What would you hope to see?   The possibilities are infinite…