26 Mar 2012

James Cameron succeeds in 11km dive to ocean floor

5:34 pm on 26 March 2012

Hollywood film director and explorer James Cameron has reached the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean, the Mariana Trench, in his solo submarine.

Cameron, who directed the films Titanic and Avatar, made the nearly 11km dive in a specially designed submersible. He is the first person in 50 years to visit the deepest part of the ocean.

Mission partner National Geographic confirmed Cameron reached a depth of 10,898m, the ABC reports, making him the first human to reach the undersea valley solo.

The water pressure at the bottom of the trench is a crushing eight tonnes per square inch - or about 1000 times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level.

The 57-year-old made his descent in the Australian-designed Deepsea Challenger in 70 minutes, faster than expected, on Monday.

He spent more than three hours exploring the ocean floor, before a speedy ascent back to the surface, the BBC reports. His craft was equipped with cameras and lights so he could film the deep.

Before the dive, the Titanic director told the BBC making the descent was "the fulfilment of a dream".

"I grew up on a steady diet of science fiction at a time when people were living a science fiction reality," he says. "People were going to the Moon, and Cousteau was exploring the ocean. And that's what I grew up with, what I valued from my childhood."

The journey was delayed several times due to bad weather.

Cameron already has 72 dives under his belt, including 12 to film Titanic.

The first manned descent to the trench was in 1960, when former US navy lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard made the historic dive in a sub called the Bathyscaphe Trieste.

They spent about 20 minutes on the ocean floor but their landing kicked up silt, meaning their view was obscured.