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Scubacraft explores surface and depths

By Keith Barry
Scubacraft uses an internal-combustion engine to reach depths of 100 feet.
Scubacraft uses an internal-combustion engine to reach depths of 100 feet.
  • The Scubacraft skims surface waters and dives 100 feet into the ocean
  • People who ride the submersible must wear scuba gear
  • The Scubacraft is not pressurized like a submarine
  • The company won't say what a Scubacraft costs; but sources say $164K

(WIRED) -- The vehicle shown above may be both yellow and submersible, but please don't call it a submarine. It's a Scubacraft, the first self-contained submersible that's also a capable surface watercraft.

The brainchild of engineers and entrepreneurs from Wales, Scubacraft uses an internal-combustion engine to reach a dive site where it can descend to a maximum depth of about 100 feet. "The experience is simply exhilarating," Scubacraft sales and marketing director James Browne told "Nothing else can compare to traveling to a dive site at 50 mph and then powering effortlessly under the water."

It's not a pressurized submarine, which means that those on board must wear scuba gear before submersion. With no cranes needed to lower the craft below water and no boat needed to carry it out to sea, a Scubacraft is significantly more versatile and less expensive than similarly sized submarines. Scubacraft won't say how much the craft costs, but other sources put the figure at $164,000.

That's a lot of cash, but Browne says you might recoup pretty quickly. While the company isn't ignoring the lucrative Dr. No-wannabe market, Browne says that Scubacraft ownership "presents a range of commercial applications, as well as the opportunity [to] offer people underwater adventure tours and generate revenue."

Beyond underwater tourism, Browne says film producers are especially interested. A future Scubacraft concept even features a dedicated filming platform that hopefully will be used for IMAX nature films, not Waterworld 2.

"We are actively engaged with a number of film producers who have expressed interest in using it as a filming platform due to the unique opportunities it presents in being able to track subjects on the surface and then enter underwater," Browne said. "This ability has never before been available in the film and television industry."

The company will eventually offer two models: the SC3, currently in prototype form, and a larger SC6 that has yet to be built. Both will use internal-combustion engines on the surface; batteries will power electric thrusters underwater. As a precaution against the bends, computerized "automatic depth control" ensures that the Scubacraft won't descend or climb too quickly.

Browne says that in the week Scubacraft has been on sale, "the response has been simply overwhelming. We are working our way through these inquiries and actively engaging with prospective customers to specify their requirements."

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Copyright 2011