Following explorer-filmmaker James Cameron’s recent successful record-breaking descent to the deepest part of the world´s oceans, Sydney-based McConaghy Boats can confirm its important involvement in this extraordinary project.
For more than forty five years, McConaghy Boats in Sydney has been solving complex composite engineering problems in the marine, aviation, military and industrial markets. Internationally recognised for building high-performance, record-breaking racing yachts, McConaghy was approached eighteen months ago to assist the explorer-filmmaker James Cameron and his engineering partner, Ron Allum, with the complex construction of the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible, a submarine capable of diving to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Western Pacific, eleven kilometres down at the deepest part of the worlds oceans – with Cameron himself onboard as sole pilot.
The challenges involved in this project were immense. The pressures involved at these extreme depths meant any faults or voids in the materials or construction process could prove catastrophic. During a three-month period, McConaghy developed a solution for bonding more than two hundred and fifty sections of the submersible’s core-buoyancy material – an extremely hard and high-strength composite foam structure innovated by Cameron’s team called ISOFLOAT® and forming the 5.8m main structure of the submersible. This beam had to be constructed to withstand 16,500 psi (114MPa) of sea pressure – allowing the main beam to become massively compressed at its record-breaking depth at the base of the Mariana Trench, resulting in the submersible becoming 60mm shorter than it is at sea-level.
Having overcome the problem of bonding the core buoyancy materials, McConaghy continued to work closely with the Acheron Project, Cameron’s and Allum’s Sydney-based team, fabricating 95% of all composites in the project, including the main beam, thruster units, doors, access panels and battery housings.
Cameron and Allum spoke with McConaghy general manager Richard Stanning just days before the submersible left Sydney for sea-trials. They were delighted with both McConaghy’s commitment to the project and its engineering capabilities. “It’s safe to say we couldn’t have done this without the McConaghy team,” said Cameron.
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