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BusinessWe are Triton Submarines. We build build deep diving submarines (some dive to 7500ft) for superyacht owners, researchers and explorers. Ask us anything about building and operating deep sea submarines.

Apr 18th 2017 by TritonSubs • 36 Questions • 4001 Points

Hi Reddit!!

We are Triton Submarines. We are based out of Vero Beach, FL and build deep diving submarines for superyacht owners, researchers and explorers.

We are really excited to be here. I arranged for the president of the company, Patrick Lahey to be here as well as the head engineer John Ramsay to be here to answer any questions you may have. We also have the entire team of electrical and mechanical engineers, and shop personnel here as well as three submarine pilots here who are all available to answer any questions you may have. Link to bios: http://tritonsubs.com/why-triton/team/

My name is Jeff Cremer and I am a photographer working for the company so let me know if you want me to take some pictures of the inside of outside of the subs and I will post them to @TritonSubs on twitter.

P.S. Please follow us on twitter. We are working on some really amazing projects.

My Proof: https://twitter.com/tritonsubs/status/854346800366583808

Quick facts about the subs in the picture:

  • Our submarines are built around a completely transparent acrylic "bubble." The acrylic is so clear that when its in water it seems like it completely disappears and you become one with the ocean.

  • The two larger subs in the photo weigh 8,000 kg (17,640 lbs) and are 2.6m (8.5 ft) tall. They can dive to a depth of 3300ft (1km) and can carry three people.

  • The sub in the middle is a smaller sub for operation from the garages of super yachts and research vessels. It can dive to a depth of 500m (1650ft) and also carry three people. It weighs 4,000 kg (8,800 lbs) and is 1.8 m (5.9 ft) tall.

  • We have just made our Triton 7500/3 submarine available for sale. This is the first acrylic pressure hull equipped manned submersible capable of diving 1.4 miles deep (i.e., 7,500 feet or 2287 meters).

  • Pressure at 7500 feet are 3,337.5psi. There is a total of 85 million pounds of total force acting on the pressure hull when the submersible is at its maximum depth which is almost equal to the weight of a battleship (USS Missouri). So much force and pressure actually makes the hull shrink a little bit when it is at max depth.

Our subs have explored the deep ocean all over the world including Antarctica, Japan, New Zealand, The Solomon Islands, Bahamas, Malta, Italy and Bikini Atoll. We have seen tons of fantastic wildlife and have had some amazing experiences.

Our subs normally cost between $1.85million to $6.3million

Edit: Thanks for the gold kind stranger!!

Q:

How many of these are bought purely so that people can, uh, bone in the deep?

A:

Hahahahahaha


Q:

If my arch nemesis and I finally agreed to settle our inexorable differences in a duel to the death a mile below the waves using a pair of your submersibles, what optional equipment, offensive or defensive, would you recommend I invest in to ensure that I would win this battle decisively?

A:

We just came back from lunch and were talking bout this question. Here is what we came up with:

We recommend using our new submarine that is rated to a 7500ft depth. You could dive so deep it would be impossible for them to follow you.


Q:

I appreciate your well-reasoned and, ultimately, pacifistic response. I would be lying if I didn't admit I was hoping for some sort "giant drill" or "hydraulic battle claw" option, however.

A:

I wanted to say that we could attach a trebuchet but those don't work underwater :/


Q:

/r/trebuchetmemes is leaking again

A:

;)


Q:

I'm a fan of wristwatches, and one of the trends is ever increasing depth ratings for them. The Rolex Deepsea for example has a rating of 3,900m.

As a human being and not a submarine I'll never have the opportunity to actually test that, but have any of you strapped a watch with a ridiculously high depth rating to the side of a sub to test it out?

A:

We have done that. Some of the Reactor watches are certified to 1000m (3300ft). We put 10 of them on a sub and dove to 1000m and they held up fine. https://www.reactorwatch.com


Q:

There was a National Geographic special on one of the Colombian drug cartels using a very primitive sub for drug smuggling years ago.

Has Triton ever been approached for anything similar?

Does anyone in the group have any thoughts about the cartels using submarines for drug smuggling?

A:
  • Our subs are not designed to traverse any distance. They are primarily designed to go up and down with a fair about of mobility when they are at depth. We haven't been approached to make a drug sub but we have heard lots of comments and jokes about it. The drug subs that I have seen look pretty dangerous and are poorly designed. They aren't build to any class required and are experimental. They may be effective but are definitely not safe. - Ron Stamm, Project Manager Electrical Engineer

  • First of all they are semi subs, not complete submarines. they travel just barely sticking up above the waterline. They are actually low profile boats. We have never been approached - Mike Haley, Special Projects


Q:

What type of testing is done on the subs before their first voyage? Hull stress testing, electronics, etc? Also, what type of redundant power systems do the subs have? Thanks for doing the AMA.

A:

We do tons of testing on the hull, electronics, mechanical systems etc. One of the most important tests that we do involves the pressure hull being put into a huge water filled pressure chamber.

Testing goes something like this:

We put a vacuum on the pressure hull then lower it into the pressure chamber. It's subjected to multiple simulated dives to 20% over its rated depth. After the test is completed we do non destructive testing on the acrylic to look for any stress cracks etc. If everything comes back good we go ahead and use the hull.

The redundant power systems that we have are:

We have two battery pods on the sub that are sealed in huge aluminum tubes that are filled with nitrogen to reduce corrosion. The battery pods are checked to make sure that they air tight before each dive by drawing a vacuum on the pod and waiting a few minutes to see if the pressure changes. In case of emergency a battery pod can be ejected and you would still have one left to use.

Also, all digital instruments and displays that we use have redundant analog gauges that are able to be used.

In case of electrical failure all emergency return to surface systems are operated by hydraulic and air pressure.


Q:

I was on a fast attack submarine as an electrician for 4.5 years. I've got a good mechanical and electrical understanding along with programming and logic. I'm living in Florida. I would love to get back under the sea, are ya'll hiring?

A:

Awesome background. I'm not sure if we're hiring though. You would have to send us an email.


Q:

What technologies do you hope to see incorporated into submarines in the future?

A:

That depends, as we manufacture and operate small submersibles that are used for a variety of purposes there are many different technologies that we are incorporating. For our science subs, sensors and ocean environmental measurement equipment is getting smaller and easier to use. Anything from chemical analyzers to seabed mapping are being put on to submersible. However on the other end of the spectrum we build for recreational use. On those we see more automation and comfort coming in the future such as better autopilot and collision avoidance. - Mat Jordan, Ocean Engineer


Q:

Cool, thanks for the response Mr. Jordan!

A:

We also want to incorporate 3D sonar with motion compensation. This can create 3D maps of the ocean bottom or shipwrecks etc. While the sub is moving. This costs around $500,000. The technology exists but we haven't had any buyers yet. This should be the ultimate took for treasure hunting or archeology. - Dr. Mike Haley US Sales and Marketing Director, PhD Marine Biology.


Q:

Would that be similar to what Triton Imaging has (theirs isn't realtime, but does create 3D maps) or had (it's been several years since I worked there)?

A:

Just checked out their website and yes, it looks very similar.


Q:

Do you have to get any certification to pilot one, or can anyone with the means purchase one and drive it?

A:

Training by the manufacturer is required but there is no formal licence requirement unless you are carrying paying passengers. If you carry paying passengers you need to have a USCG Submersible License for the particular vessel.

Our factory training consists of classroom exercise, submarine theory, practical maintenance training, and practical dive training. It's closer to flight school than submarine training. Most of our certified pilots get a minimum of 20 dives before they are certified by us. - Troy Engen, General Manager, Sub Pilot


Q:

How problematic are farts when ur in a submarine?

A:

Actually, you might find this interesting:

The "ABS Rules For Building And Classing Underwater Vehicles, Systems and Hyperbaric Facilities 2012" states that the "Standard Person (2009)" produces 0.1 cu. ft. per day of flatus. We are able to be ABS classed and have therefore have probably taken the flatus that a person produces into account in our designs.

We also have CO2 scrubbers on board which clean the air of CO2. I'm not sure how if it works on hydrogen sulfide and methane though.

The safest bet is to use one of our emergency self contained breathing apparatus systems (ESCBA)that come with the sub. Relevant Pics: https://twitter.com/tritonsubs/status/854428013550817283


Q:

Interesting indeed. Any anecdotes regarding farts in subs? Now u got me wondering, could u smoke inside a sub? Obviously this wouldn't be a smart practice, but how would it play out if u did it?

A:

Smoking is prohibited onboard due to the fact that you are in a closed environment being filled with oxygen among other reasons.


Q:

Ok, its prohibited, no surprise there. Hypothetical scenario, u smoke a cig in a sub-- what happens? Does it just get smokey in there? Is it dangerous to simply flick a lighter in there? Have there been instances of equipment malfunctioning, causing smoke to form in the breathing chamber? Is that what ur personal breathers are for by design?

A:

Flicking a cigarette lighter won't cause a fire since the air in the sub is the same as regular outside air. The problem is that having a fire inside of the sub, even a small fire from a cigarette, could lead to a larger fire.

Here is a list of the emergency equipment that is kept in the cabin of the sub:

  • ESCBA - The emergency breathers are there in case of electrical fire or a problem with the air mixture inside the sub. They are self contained breathing units which mean that they have a box that contains a chemical which, when mixed, creates breathable oxygen.
  • BIBS - We also have Backup Internal Breathing Systems (BIBS) that are similar to scuba regulators that are connected to the submarines air supply.
  • Lithium curtains - Other safety equipment includes lithium curtains, which are small blankets that can be hung up to scrub CO2 from the atmosphere of the sub.
  • Fire Extinguishers - We also have fire extinguishers and a water spray bottle to put out fires.
  • Food - There are packs of high calorie carbohydrate bars as well as an
  • Water - There is an emergency water maker which can take the external salt water and create fresh drinking water.
  • Other - We also have a first aid kit, life jackets and an emergency tool kit inside the sub.

The sub has everything that three people need to survive for at least 96 hours.

You can see a photo of all the safety equipment here: https://twitter.com/tritonsubs/status/854446034151460865

The large black bags are the lithium CO2 scrubbers.


Q:

One ping only?

A:

One ping only, please.


Q:

Is the acrylic cast in the right shape and used "as is," or are they cast much larger and ground down to the correct size?

Are they poured and cured under vacuum to keep bubbles from forming?

A:

The acrylic is thermoformed into hemispheres of the right dimensions from flat acrylic sheets. The hemispheres are then bonded together and polished. After all that is done, depending on the model, we cut the hull penetrations such as the entry hatch etc. and start building the sub. - Mike Haley, Special Projects


Q:

How safe are your subs? Ever been any near misses or Das Boot situations?

A:

No near misses or Das Boot situations. We have never had any accidents in any of our subs. All of our subs have multiple redundant systems and are classed. Being classed means that they have been reviewed by outside agencies and certified safe. The organizations that we certify our submersibles through are Cayman Islands Shipping Registry, DNV/GL and ABS.

There are multiple ways to surface:

  • In case of electrical failure all emergency return to surface systems are operated by hydraulic and air pressure. You can also eject battery pods, weights, manipulator arms. Any one of these can return you to the surface in an emergency.

  • Most of the mega yachts have internal assistance plan where divers can dive to 100m to help out.

  • The subs also have 96 hours of life support on board and all of the operators have emergency plans with fast response ROVs on stand by or in the area. Within 96 hours of an incident there can be another ROV or rescue sub on site.

  • Also, most super yachts use a company called Phoenix that can have a rescue sub on site in 96 hours.


Q:

Thanks so much for doing this AMA! I am a mechanical engineer who is moving to Vero Beach soon. If I swing by, could I get shown around your facilities? I would love to learn more about how you guys do what you do.

A:

Sure we would be happy to show you around!!


Q:

can i try one?

A:

If you are a scientist you can apply to use one on the M/V Alucia but we currently don't have any of our subs being used for public recreational use. Some text from the Alucia website:

"The Alucia is a 56 meter research and exploration vessel built to broaden our scientific understanding of the ocean and illuminate its myriad natural wonders. Her launch and recovery platform facilitate a wide range of diving and submersible operations. She boasts the latest in technical diving, filming and scientific research equipment. She contains two subs - the Triton 3300/3 and the Deep Rover 2 – both of which are rated for a maximum depth of 1000 meters. The Alucia also features unrivaled film production capabilities and the latest in nautical expedition media technology, via her working relationship with Alucia Productions."


Q:

Huge fan of submarines and military technology. That being said what are some of your favorite submarine films? Also, is the idea of a Caterpillar drive rendering a submarine absolutely silent even possible?

A:

I believe that magnetohydrodynamic propulsion is possible. The japanese had a ship called the Yamato 1 that used the technology. You can find out more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetohydrodynamic_drive

P.S. I love the Hunt for Red October and Abyss. - Jeff


Q:

I work in propulsion research, studying aerodynamics using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software.

I've always wondered how similar the processes are between hydrodynamic and aerodynamic design. Do you use CFD at all?

A:

We use CFD to establish a predicted top speed for some of our vessels but, unlike a plane, a regular boat or a military submarine, we don't rely on control surfaces to manoeuvre the vehicle. All our directional controls come from vectoring the thrust to the four propulsion units. There are a lot of similarities between aerodynamics and hydrodynamics, especially for submarines that operate under the surface, so they're completely immersed in the fluid (unlike boats, that are operating on the water's surface). - John Ramsay, Principal Design Engineer


Q:

How are you able to stay profitable if so much of your business is underwater? But in all seriousness, where do you think would be the best place to use a tourist sub? especially since the great barrier reef now officially a goner.

A:

There are tourist subs operating all over the world: Cayman Islands, Guam, Hawaii, Cozumel etc.


Q:

This is very interesting! Considering the super rich like custom, how far exactly can you take the submarine building experience? You said normally they cost up to 6.3, but have you gone drastically over that in the past?

A:

We are a fully capable ocean engineering company and can do anything that the customer requires.

  • One of the design changes that we made was coming up with our Triton 1650/3LP (LP stands for low profile) submarine design that is designed for use specifically in super yacht garages and doesn't have to be placed on the deck.

  • Another design that we came up with was the 3300/1MD that was made for a client who wanted a second submarine on his yacht but didn't have room for a bigger sub. We were able to design the 3300/1MD a sub that fit his requirements and he left a happy man. (MD stands for minimum displacement)

  • We also have a Triton 1000/7 sub that is a 7 passenger tourist submersible that dives to 1000ft.


Q:

What happened with the phoenix 1000? I always thought that would be the best yacht one could ever own. Did you have a buyer that just backed out after the design work was done?

A:

It would be a fantastic sub but nobody has yet come up with the $90 million which is the subs estimated price.


Q:

What is your favorite book or one book you would suggest that every person read?

A:

Here are a few books that we think are good:

Troy Engen, General Manager, Sub Pilot: "No Time On Our Side" (A story about submarine rescue)

Mike Haley, Special Projects: "Run Silent Run Deep"

Jeff Cremer: "Blind Mans Bluff"


Q:

what's the coolest ship you've ever built?

A:

All of them :)


Q:

I work in IT and the cost of a failed "piece of code" is relatively low(compared to a human life)

That is why we try out best to test software before it gets to our customers.

What sort of testing do these things go through?

Do you test each component before assembly and then do a final "safety test" ?

Just curious! Thanks.

A:

We do an amazing amount of safety testing on the sub. We do so much testing that our subs can be officially classed by third party classing organizations such as ABS, DNV/GL and CISR. We like to say that when the safety documentation weighs as much as the sub then our job is done. Each and every component of the sub is tested before use and then they are tracked through out the building, testing and delivery. We continue customer support after purchase so that we are 100% sure that everything is always working correctly. After the sub is completed we do sea trials which consist of FAT, HAT, SAT testing which means Factory Acceptance Testing (basically inspections at the factory), Harbor Acceptance Testing (basically shallow harbor dives) and then finally Site Acceptance Testing which is the final deep dive testing done before we deliver the ship to the client. There are also a myriad of monthly, and yearly inspections done on the sub as well as operational guidelines for safe use of the sub.


Q:

Do you get more customers that use the subs for business/research or for leisure use?

A:

Most of our customers use the subs on their megayachts for recreational use. Actually, some customers have a second boat that follows their primary boat called a "shadow boat" and carries all the "toys." These toys can include cars, motorcycles, additional tender boats, helicopters and of course, submarines


Q:

Have you considered using the new metal foam technology for your subs?

A:

I'm not familiar with metal foam technology but we do use syntactic foam in the subs to give it more buoyancy and stability when its on the surface. It's basically a hard yellow block of foam with microscopic glass spheres embedded into it. Here is a pic of the syntactic foam on the back of the sub: https://twitter.com/tritonsubs/status/854415730972000256

From the internet:

"Syntactic foam is a class of material created using pre-formed hollow spheres (commonly made of glass, ceramic, polymer or even metal) bound together with a polymer. The "syntactic" portion refers to the ordered structure provided by the hollow spheres. The "foam" term relates to the cellular nature of the material."


A:

You can usually see us at the larger boat and yacht shows such as the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. Thanks for the info on the foam. Looks really interesting. - Jeff


Q:

How much would it cost to go down in one of your subs for a few hours?

A:

Private individuals use our subs but I recommend that you check out https://atlantisadventures.com


Q:

Have you ever experienced a critical malfunction where you had to surface to survive?

A:

Nope, never had any accidents on with the subs.


Q:

Have you guys built any subs for woods hole or any other government research groups around the world?

A:

All of our submersibles are currently owned by private individuals. Some of the owners do their own research with the subs but we haven't built any subs specifically for government organizations.


Q:

Why isn't the technology that the sub from The Hunt for the Red October uses a real thing yet? This is a serious question.


Q:

This may seem a strange question to some but why were your submarines painted yellow, which is proven to attract sharks, and not say battleship grey or the red and grey of old submersibles?

A:

The customers like the yellow color. It also makes it easier to spot the sub when its surfacing.