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Billionaires swapping yachts for submarines to explore mysterious deep ocean
November 19, 2020
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Billionaire playboys are ditching luxury yachts and splash out millions of pounds on submarines to explore the world's oceans instead.
Sales have soared by 30% this year with mini-subs set to become the new must-have for the world's mega-rich in 2021.
Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, Abu Dhabi emir Sheikh Khalifa and the late Microsoft founder Paul Allen are among the first to get the vessels.
Wealthy owners are taking scientists on their underwater adventures hoping to make new discoveries in the last unknown areas on Earth.
And submarine makers reckon the upcoming 007 film's trailer for No Time to Die, which features a glider that transforms into a submarine, has played a part.
Charles Kohnen, president of California-based Seamagine, who told The Times customers wanted "larger toys", said: “It certainly will help raise the passions, dreams, and interest for small private subs for the public at large.
"I do not foresee it spur an immediate demand but it will keep the flame burning for some people’s long-term dreams.”
The deep sea is completely dark and home to mountains taller than Mount Everest and the strangest creatures on the planet.
They are able to withstand immense water pressure at up to 150C near hypothermal vents on the sea bed said to be are less understood than the Moon.
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Just three companies are responsible for making almost all mini-submarines estimate that the market is now worth up to £75 million a year – with sales haven risen annually to as much as 25 vessels.
Bruce Jones, chief executive of Triton, based in Florida, who reckoned sales had increased 30% this year, told the newspaper: “In the beginning you could go to a boat show and people would come by and laugh at you.
“They wouldn’t give us the time of day, but now they’re constantly beating on the door."
Triton’s DSV Limiting Factor broke the record for the deepest dive last year by descending 10,928 metres to the bottom of Challenger Deep in the Pacific.
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Mr Jones said that yacht owners were increasingly interested in making discoveries below the waves.
“There’s only so much of the world you can see above the surface. Every time you take a dive, you’re seeing something that no man has seen before. My owners are typically heroes to their families and friends because you can present an experience that you can’t get anywhere else.”
He said that some buyers, such as the hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio, were inviting scientists on their trips.
“Half of our clients allow scientists to go with them,” he added.
Roy Heijdra of U-Boat Worx, based in the Netherlands, has sold ten submarines worth up to £2.2m.
He said that the super rich were demanding that their yachts be designed for exploration rather than leisure alone.