Richard Branson, who has previously sought to re-invent air travel with Virgin Atlantic, and space travel with Virgin Galactic, has set his sights on the ocean blue. Virgin Oceanic, announced today, will seek to take divers to the 5 deepest places on earth.
The Five Dives initiative, as the pilot phase of Oceanic it is known, targets the lowest points of the planet's five oceans, with the Pacific's Mariana Trench, at 36, 201 feet below sea level, set as the holy grail. Explorer Chris Welch will pilot that dive, while Branson himself, never accused of being a hands-off executive, will dive to the world's second deepest point, the Puerto Rico Trench.
The expeditions will be made in a single-man vehicle created by Hawkes Ocean Technologies and given a signature Virgin makeover. The big Mariana Trench dive is scheduled for later this year, while the other four dives will be spread out over the next two years.