The dream of enigmatic French architect Jacques Rougerie will begin its path to realisation this year as the fabled ‘SeaOrbiter’ goes into production.
Described as the ‘ultimate’ sea vessel for the continued exploration and observation of the world’s oceans, the SeaOrbiter will stand 27 metres above sea level whilst simultaneously being submerged for a further 31 metres below the waterline.
Weighing approximately 500 tonnes of recycled aluminium, the SeaOrbiter will scour the seas guided by the path of the current, but also has a small propulsion system.
Undoubtedly revolutionary in its concept, the vehicle will allow a team of scientists to permanently observe the oceans as it drifts around the world; something that has not yet been realised. It also functions on a sustainable basis by using the energy of the sea to power itself.
Further to this, the SeaOrbiter will include the world’s first submerged astronaut training facility, where 6-8 astronauts will be able to experience the depths of space in the confines of the depths of the ocean.
“SeaOrbiter has a multi-level atmospheric pressure module and a pressurised module. The latter is open undersea, allowing the 6 to 8 aquanauts to live permanently at the heart of the ocean and to have immediate access to the marine world. The lock chamber connects with the atmospheric pressure upper decks housing the crewmembers in charge of logistics and responsible for preparing supplies for the aquanauts,” the SeaOrbiter team said.
Jacques Rogerie is an outspoken French architect and the brains behind the SeaOrbiter project. Considering himself a ‘worthy descendent of Captain Nemo and Jules Verne,’ Rogerie has certainly turned some heads with his colossal boat.
“The ambition of the vessel is undoubted and should be applauded for its goals; ultimately the increase in human knowledge and learning in Oceanography,” Rogerie said of the project.
Having an extensive and impressive back catalogue of aquatic architecture including the Pavillion of the Sea in Kobe, Japan and the Museum of Underwater Archeology in Alexandria, Egypt, the SeaOrbiter has been a part of Rogerie’s plans for the past 30 years.
Making a splash
The project has attracted considerable attention from media and educational outlets, and its business partners include Rolex (who will be keen to see its watches keep ticking 31 meters down) and National Geographic. To ensure that interest in the vessel continues during its life, a multitude of onboard cameras will capture the ocean outside and relay the video on a continuous stream, and it is hoped capture the imaginations and hearts of the next generation of land-loving oceanographers.
Having excelled in testing stages and come through a series of prototypal considerations, the SeaOrbiter is nearing construction readiness.
The SeaOrbiter team said: With our diverse range of technical and industrial partners we have carried out a wide ranging design and modelling tests. For example from our tank tests on a 1:15 scale model at Marintek in Norway, we have developed better sea keeping qualities in the stabiliser disk and keel and have improved the propulsion system. In this development process we have also enlarged the interior spaces, resulting in modifications to the thickness of the disk and the height of the vessel.
The SeaOrbiter is coming to an ocean near you, and you can’t miss it.