Back in the Day: Trieste plumbs the greatest depths

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Back in the Day: Trieste plumbs the greatest depths

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January 23, 1960 The Trieste bathyscaphe, or ‘deep boat’, reaches the deepest known point of the world’s ocean, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench near Guam, some 10,916 metres below the water’s surface. It remains the only manned vessel to have done so. The crew, Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard and US Navy Lieutenant Donald Walsh, took four and 48 minutes to reach the bottom of the trench and were surprised to find marine life swimming around the 18-metre long Trieste at such depth. Piccard and Walsh endured a major scare at 9,000 metres down when the pressure of more than 1,000 atmospheres cracked the outer plexiglass window, causing the whole vessel to shudder.

The Trieste was designed by Piccard’s father Auguste and built by a team of Italian engineers before being bought for $250,000 by the US Navy. After being retired in 1963, it now rests in the US Navy Museum in Washington DC.

Also on January 23: Washington DC’s Georgetown University is founded (1789); The Battle of Rorke’s Drift ends (1879); first broadcast of The A-Team (1983).

*Born on January 23: Stendhal (1783), Django Reinhardt (1910), Jeanne Moreau (1928), Rutger Hauer (1957), Arjen Robben (1984).