OceanGate Foundation is proud to support opportunities for scientific and archaeological research using OceanGate Inc. submersibles as a research platform. OceanGate Inc’s pioneering use of advanced materials and technologies provides a wide variety of researchers with unprecedented opportunities for deep sea exploration. Here’s a look at the different submersibles developed by OceanGate Inc. Read more on the OceanGate website.
4,000 meters / 13,123 feet
Titan is a revolutionary carbon fiber and titanium submersible with a depth range of 4,000 meters that provides access to 50 percent of the world’s oceans. Titan ushers in a new era of manned submersible exploration and is the only sub in the world that can take five crew members to these depths.
500 meters / 1,640 feet
The first of the Cyclops-class submersibles, Cyclops 1 is a fully functional prototype and platform for software, technology and equipment for Titan. Following her debut in 2015 the OceanGate crew has deployed Cyclops 1 on dozens of missions in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico.
305 meters / 1,000 feet
Utilized for shallow expeditions, Antipodes is a manned submersible that enables commercial and scientific applications for researchers, scientists, filmmakers and content providers. The two acrylic hemispherical domes provide unparalleled views and make her a ideal vessel for teams to collaborate and explore to depths of 305 meters (1,000 feet).
OceanGate Foundation is looking for passionate people to support our work.
In 2015, OceanGate, Inc. unveiled its next generation submersible Cyclops 1 at Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry. Cyclops is used on many of the missions OceanGate Foundation supports.
From OceanGate, Inc.: “Cyclops 1 features an enhanced automated control system designed by the Applied Physics Lab at the University of Washington and OceanGate’s internal engineering team. Using a combination of Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) technology and innovative system architecture the automated control system monitors life support, power management, navigation and other critical system diagnostics. The control system, which is also used on Titan, is revolutionizing how manned submersibles operate by increasing safety through a reduction in user error and time spent on vehicle control therefore increasing time to achieve mission objectives.”
After launch, OceanGate Foundation led “floating-and-sinking” and Cartesian diver explorations for 100+ elementary-aged students, and explained submersible operations via external tours of the sub. We also facilitated a tour of the sub by a smaller group of high school students in a skills program at Seattle’s Center for Wooden Boats.
From October 21-28, 2016, OceanGate Inc. and OceanGate Foundation continued the Eye on the Sanctuaries Tour with an expedition to the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary near San Francisco, California. The multi-day expedition used the 5-man submersible Cyclops 1 to explore the ocean depths to 500 meters (1600 feet) to expand our understanding of the distribution and abundance of deep-sea fish, corals, and sponges within the sanctuary.
Dive sites included:
OceanGate Foundation was excited to help map the wreck site of the USS Hatteras in 2012. According to Wikipedia, “The very first USS Hatteras was a 1,126-ton steamer purchased by the Union Navy at the beginning of the American Civil War. She was outfitted as a gunboat and assigned to the Union blockade of the ports and waterways of the Confederate States of America. During an engagement with the disguised Confederate commerce raider, CSS Alabama, she was taken by surprise and was sunk off the coast of Galveston, Texas. The wreck site is one of the few listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its location away from destructive surf and because of the ship’s side-wheel design, which marks the transition between wooden sailing ships and steam-powered ships.”
From September 1-30, 2012, OceanGate Foundation partnered with renowned maritime archeologist Dr. James Delgado and his team from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Texas A&M Galveston, the Texas State Historical Commission, and others. The goal was to create a thorough map of the wreck site. OceanGate Foundation provided Teledyne BlueView sonar and an operator, James Glaeser of Northwest Hydro. Partners showed up with no fewer than 15 scuba divers to assist in the setup and operation of the sonar on the ocean floor for measurement, assessment, and photography of the wreck site resting in sand, silt, and 57 feet of water. Visibility varied from ten feet down to zero, and the seas were rolling three-to-five feet. It was challenging work for people both above and below the surface but ultimately, the team succeeded in conducting the 3D sonar mapping that led to the creation of a 3D map.
After winter storms scoured away sand from around the ancient harbor of Caesarea Maritima, Israel, local scuba divers came across the remnants of an ancient Roman merchant ship scattered across an area that was 40 by 60 meters. It was a discovery heralded around the world as the largest shipwreck found in Israel in more than thirty years, but that was only as the rescue excavation began. It soon became clear that the site was one of the largest and most important late Roman wrecks ever discovered.
During the brief time the shipwreck was exposed, from May 2016—June 2017, a mapping and surface recovery operation was led by Jacob Sharvit, Head of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), with Dr. Bridget Buxton of the University of Rhode Island. Oceangate Foundation was among the key supporters who made this expedition possible, and facilitated the testing of new prototype 3D site mapping robots and technologies from the Universities of Girona and Zagreb. These new technologies produced data and images for a 3DVR experience of the shipwreck site.
Caesarea’s early fourth century AD shipwreck reveals the world of Rome’s first Christian emperor, Constantine the Great, and his arch-rival Licinius— both of whom are featured on many precious coins from the site. After only a few weeks of investigation, it had already yielded the largest shipwreck assemblage discovered in Israel in more than a generation, including over 30 kg of coins, many luxury goods of Italian and Egyptian manufacture, bilge parts, sheathing, anchors, a unique lead brazier, a large steelyard, a bronze cupid, fishing equipment, ornate bronze lamps and figurines, glass cullet (the largest provenanced collection of late Roman glass in the world), marble architecture— possibly associated with a shipboard shrine of Isis, Italian decorated lead mirror frames, copper nails and tools, and five fragmentary life-size bronze statues. Almost 2000 kg of raw material was recovered, including 500 kg of iron, 800 kg of bronze statue parts, 150 kg of glass, and other artefacts that suggest the ship began her journey in Ostia, Italy, and came to Caesarea via Egypt. Treasures from the wreck have already toured museums around the world, and are displayed now in Caesarea’s new archaeological museum.
Rescue excavations occur when archaeological sites face imminent destruction—in this case, due to the sudden exposure of a long-buried shipwreck through natural processes. During this thankfully brief period of exposure, the project’s prototype site-mapping robots were able to create fast, accurate photomosaics and 3D models of the site to assist the archaeologists doing the recovery operation.
It is only a matter of time before storms and erosion expose this site again, potentially causing catastrophic damage to delicate organic materials and other treasures. A planned systematic excavation of the site over several years could save the rest of Caesarea’s unique fourth century AD wreck for posterity, as well as providing further field-testing opportunities for new robotic archaeological tools.
The IAA maritime unit monitors areas that were at-risk sites after storms, and attempts to respond quickly to remove artefacts in rescue excavation scenarios. The full excavation of such a large and significant site would be an expensive multi-year undertaking by many partners, so in situ preservation (leaving a shipwreck untouched) is the best option as long as the site remains naturally buried.
Beginning in 2014, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) initiated an ambitious digital archaeology project to create a high-resolution 3D map of the submerged ancient port of Caesarea Maritima, Israel. Built by King Herod the Great at the end of the first century BCE, Caesarea is recognized today as a marvel of Roman engineering and one of the most important underwater archaeological sites in the world.
Along with collaborating researchers from the Universities of Rhode Island, Louisville (Kentucky), Zagreb, Florence, and Girona, OceanGate Foundation has supported this initiative from the beginning, recognizing Caesarea not only as an important testing ground for marine science technology, but a site of ongoing and highly significant new discoveries in the history of Judaism and Christianity. A new museum that opened at the site in May 2019 showcases OceanGate Foundation’s enormous contribution to Caesarea’s maritime archaeology.
While the popular tourist site has been extensively excavated since the 1960s, maps and reconstructions produced from this work were based on incomplete information and constrained by the limits of available technology. In 2010, a severe winter storm dramatically changed the underwater landscape at Caesarea, revealing many new features. This prompted the IAA to undertake a new conservation assessment of the ruins, which came to encompass the rescue excavations of a Fatimid-era gold hoard (2015) and a large fourth century CE Roman shipwreck (2016-2017), as well as numerous other discoveries. Critical to this effort were underwater 3D camera systems developed by the University of Girona, the University of Zagreb Pladypos ASV robot, AUVs from the University of Florence, and most recently, the University of Rhode Island “Digski,” a Yamaha Waverunner modified into an excavation dredge. Archaeologists Koby Sharvit and Dror Planer (IAA), Bridget Buxton (URI), and John Hale (Louisville) led the fieldwork alongside OceanGate citizen scientists and numerous students and marine robotics engineers from around the world.
By 2017, discoveries in the field plus some historical detective work led the OceanGate Foundation team to come up with several new hypotheses about the construction of the harbor and its true size, with major implications for the career of Pontius Pilate and our understanding of ancient navigation. Testing these theories, however, has required deploying and even inventing an entirely new suite of underwater tools, from the super high tech (the European robots) to the just super fun (the “Digski”). OceanGate Foundation’s Caesarea expeditions are having a transformative impact on biblical history, subsea technology, and the careers of the many students who have joined the project as archaeologists and ocean engineers in training.
It’s hard to believe, but the IAA-OceanGate Foundation project operates on lower budgets than the Caesarea excavation projects of the 1980s and 90s. It is a small expedition that has yielded big revelations—but the best are still to come, buried deep under the preserving sand that still covers vast areas of Herod’s ancient harbor.
Would you like to be part of our ongoing discovery? Contact us for information on how you can support our next expedition to this ancient port.