BEIJING, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) — China’s maritime authority has hailed the mission of an unmanned underwater vehicle as a success after it completed a fortnight voyage that included deep-water and night dives in the Pacific Ocean. The State Oceanic Administration said on Wednesday that Qianlong-1, or underwater dragon-1, completed seven diving missions from Oct. 6 to 12, with a record depth of 5,162 meters.
Xu Huixi, leader of the Qianlong-1 project, said the vehicle had made several technological breakthroughs during the mission and it functioned normally. Xu said the success of the mission showed the benefits of the vehicle in carrying out offshore seabed tasks.
Qianlong-1 is on a trial run and marks the first time a Chinese autonomous underwater vehicle has been used for a scientific expedition.
The vehicle, which is a robot that can travel to a depth of 6,000 meters, is tasked to explore the seabed and collect hydrological data. It is about 4.6 meters long, 1,500 kg in weight and 0.8 meters in diameter. The vehicle, on board of the Chinese research vessel Haiyang-6, left Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sept. 28 for the eastern Pacific Ocean, with the first dive on Oct. 6.
During its fortnight voyage, the submersible successfully operated for a combined period of about 29 hours and collected data covering an area about 33 square kilometers. It completed two night dives respectively on Oct. 8 and 9.