POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jan 6, 2014
In case Santa didn't give you everything you wanted, there's a new submarine in the water.
Hawkes Ocean Technologies, a maker of personal submarines, Thursday announced a new craft, priced 25 percent below previous models and capable of going fast enough to "fly" alongside most large sea creatures.
The flying element is one of the more intriguing elements of the Hawkes craft. These submarines are naturally buoyant and submerge by turning the angle of their fins, much the way aircraft shift flaps and rudders to move through the air. The standard submarine sinks, then propels forward -- in a sense, more like an airship than a plane.
The Hawkes sub can descend to 120 meters, about as far as sunlight can reach in clear waters. Without its forward propulsion it will rise to the surface in 30 seconds. With sufficient power, the company says, the new lighter-weight model can fully exit the water the way some whales breach the surface.
At $1.35 million each, the one-man model still registers at the high end of water sports gear. That is less than the previous two-man sub, which cost $1.7 million, and in a world of both mega-yachts and thrill seekers that price tag is not implausible.
"It's a luxury vehicle, so to speak, something for people with a real passion for flying and the ocean," said Adam Wright, president of Hawkes, which is based in Richmond, Calif. "It's for luxury yachts and tourism."
The two-man subs could travel about 6 knots. At 10 knots, Wright said, "You're able to keep up with whales, dolphins, sharks and sea lions at cruising speeds."
On a trip in a two-man vessel I took a decade back, the experience of sea flying was captivating. One is enclosed in a Plexiglas bubble, and the experience of being surrounded by deep water and sea life to the extent of peripheral vision was much richer than viewing the ocean through a face mask. The craft, powered by electric batteries that Wright said could last up to four hours in the new model, is nearly silent in the water.