UAE resident to make dive attempt to lowest point on earth

Explorer Hamish Harding aims to traverse Challenger Deep at the Mariana Trench

A Dubai resident is heading for the rarely visited depths of Mariana Trench.

Hamish Harding, 49, will attempt on Friday to traverse the Challenger Deep in a two-person submersible.

It is the deepest known point in the world's oceans, sinking to 11 kilometres below sea level - even deeper than Mt Everest.

Harding said he wants to be the first explorer to explore the ocean bed, after others simply reached the bottom.

His mission also aims to set a world record by scouring the sea floor for up to four hours.

Searching for evidence of human pollution at the lowest point on earth, the explorer will also be keeping an eye out for the discovery of any new species that call the area in the Pacific Ocean home.

The dive will take place in the purpose-built Triton submersible, DSV Limiting Factor, which Harding will co-pilot alongside Victor Vescovo.

The two-man submersible has been designed to take 100,000 tonnes of pressure at full ocean depth – the equivalent of 50 Jumbo Jets or 8,000 double-decker buses and 1,200 times more than the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level.

“The Challenger Deep is a little-studied and incredibly hostile environment. During the dive, we will attempt, using a robotic arm, to collect samples from the ocean floor that could contain new forms of life," said Mr Harding.

“And, in searching for signs of human pollution in this remote environment, we hope to aid scientific efforts to protect our oceans and ensure they flourish for millennia to come."

The adventure will be documented by the explorer’s 13-year-old son, Giles, who is a student at Dubai College.

Staying aboard the expedition yacht, he will document his father’s mission via Instagram using the handle @giles.explores, all while continuing his education via remote learning from the vessel. A keen explorer himself, Giles achieved his own record last year becoming the youngest person ever to reach the South Pole.

Only 18 people have previously made it to the deepest point on earth, in comparison with thousands who climb to the highest peak each year.

And it’s only six more people than have walked on the surface of the moon.

The first submersible to sink to the same depths was in 1960, only to re-emerge 20 minutes later. Famously, James Cameron, Hollywood director, made the first solo descent in 2012. The Titanic director spent more than two and a half hours just shy of 11km below sea level.

Harding already holds the world record for fastest circumnavigation of the Earth via both poles in a Gulfstream 650ER business jet.

“I’ve long been inspired by the spirit of adventure and exploration in my home country, the UAE – the feeling that anything is possible,” said Harding.

“I am proud to represent the UAE as the first resident from the Middle East to dive the Mariana Trench to the lowest point on earth.”

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