SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A Bay Area man is close to launching a specially-designed submersible that will dive seven miles under the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

Scientist Graham Hawkes of San Anselmo said he’s been working on a mini-sub that can withstand pressure at tremendous depths.

His voyage will take him to an underwater gorge known as the Mariana Trench which sits 36,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean near Guam.

“The pressure down there is 16,000 pounds a square inch,” said Hawkes of San Anselmo.

KCBS’ Dave Padilla:

Hawkes has been working on a submersible that can withstand the pressure of such a journey and said he’s close to finishing the mini-sub that will take him to that depth.

“The craft we built was for Steve Fossett to get the solo depth record,” said Hawkes.

Steve Fossett was the American adventurer who was the first person to fly solo, non-stop around the world in a balloon.

He died in 2007 in an apparent solo plane crash over the Nevada desert.

According to the Marin Independent Journal, the vessel Graham Hawkes is building to take him seven miles below the Pacific looks like an underwater fighter jet and is anything but roomy.
Hawkes said he’s claustrophobic but will be able to make the trip in the tiny space.

He explained that if his head is free to move side-to-side then his claustrophobia is under control.

Other teams are competing to make the trek, including one headed by Hollywood filmmaker James Cameron.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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