BILLIONAIRE ADVENTURER TARGETS MARIANAS TRENCH

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Branson to dive more than 36,000 feet

By Zita Y. Taitano SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, April. 7, 2011) - Best known for his adventure exploits, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson is planning on exploring the world’s deepest ocean trenches in a jet-like submarine with the Marianas Trench being the first place he’ll go to.

[PIR editor’s note: The Marianas Trench is the deepest trench in the world and is located in the east of Mariana Islands in the western Pacific Ocean.]

According to reports from Reuters, Branson made the announcement on Tuesday stateside time.

The vessel, which measures about 18 feet, is able to descend more than 36,000 feet below service, said Branson during a news conference.

The exploration is part of a project he calls "Virgin Oceanic" and will include five dives over the next two years.

Branson announced that his team plans to explore the seven-mile deep Marianas Trench at a depth of 36,000 feet.

The last time a dive by a man was made in the Marianas Trench was in 1960.

Swiss scientist Jacque Piccard and U.S. Navy Lt. Donald Walsh were on board the bathyscaph "Trieste" a U.S. Navy-owned submersible manned vessel designed by Piccard’s father. The two men set a record by diving down to a depth of about 35,810 feet.

Meanwhile, the record company mogul plans on piloting the second dive into the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic Ocean.

Other trenches include the Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean; South Sandwich Trench in the Southern Ocean and Diamantina in the Indian Ocean.

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