To unlock the mysteries in the heart of the deep sea waters, India has undertook mega ocean mission ‘Samudrayaan’. The country aims to send a team of experts into the deep sea to carry out various deep underwater studies. Samudrayaan Mission is aimed to develop a self-propelled manned submersible to carry three human beings to a water depth of 6,000 meters in the ocean with a suite of scientific sensors and tools for deep ocean exploration. It has an endurance of 12 hours of operational period and 96 hours in case of emergency.
The manned submersible will allow scientific personnel to observe and understand unexplored deep-sea areas by direct interventions. Further, it will enhance the capability for deep sea man rated vehicle development.
The projected timeline is five years for the period 2020-2021 to 2025-2026.
For India, there lies a unique maritime position, a 7517 km long coastline, which is home to nine coastal states and 1,382 islands. The Government of India’s vision of ‘New India’ highlights the Blue Economy as one of the ten core dimensions of growth.
National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Chennai, an autonomous institute under Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), has developed 6000m depth rated Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and various other underwater instruments such as Autonomous Coring System (ACS), Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and Deep Sea Mining System (DSM) for the exploration of deep sea.
With the launch of the unique ocean mission ‘Samudrayaan’ in October 2021, India joined the elite club of nations such as the US, Russia, Japan, France, and China to have niche technology and vehicles to carry out subsea activities.
While launching the sea exploration initiative, Union Minister of State Dr Jitendra Singh mentioned, “This niche technology shall facilitate Ministry of Earth Sciences, in carrying out deep ocean exploration of the non-living resources such as polymetallic manganese nodules, gas hydrates, hydro-thermal sulphides, and cobalt crusts, located at a depth between 1000 and 5500 meters.”
Oceans, which cover 70 percent of the globe, remain a key part of our life. About 95 percent of the Deep Ocean remains unexplored. For India, with its three sides surrounded by the oceans and around 30 percent of the nation’s population living in coastal areas and coastal regions play a major economic factor. It supports fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, livelihoods, and blue trade.
The preliminary design of the manned submersible ‘MATSYA 6000’ is completed and realization of the vehicle has been started along with various organizations including ISRO, IITM, and DRDO roped-in to support the initiative, the Union Minister added.
Developed indigenously, MATSYA 6000 is a manned submersible vehicle. It will facilitate the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) in conducting deep ocean exploration.
The underwater vehicles are essential for carrying out subsea activities such as high resolution bathymetry, biodiversity assessment, geo-scientific observation, search activities, salvage operation and engineering support. Even though unmanned underwater vehicles have improved manoeuvring and excellent vision systems resembling direct observation, manned submersible provides a feel of direct physical presence for researchers and has better intervention capability. With the advancing subsea technologies.
The Indian government had approved the Deep Ocean Mission (DOM) to be implemented under the aegis of the Ministry of Earth Sciences at a total budget of Rs 4,077 crore for a period of five years.
The estimated cost for the first phase for the 3 years (2021-2024) would be Rs 2,823.4 crore. Deep Ocean Mission will be a mission mode project to support the Blue Economy Initiatives of the Government of India.
With an emphasis on the development of deep-sea technology, the Deep Ocean Mission consists of development of manned Submersible rated for 6,000 metre water depth along with technologies for deep-sea mining, exploration of deep-sea mineral resources, and marine biodiversity.
Some of the critical subsystems of the manned submersibles are development of Ti Alloy Personnel Sphere, Human support and safety system in enclosed space, low density buoyancy modules, Ballast and Trim System. Pressure compensated batteries and propulsion system, control and communication systems and Launching and Recovery System.
System design, concept of operation, subcomponents functionality and integrity, emergency rescue, failure mode analysis are reviewed and certified as per the rules of International Association of Classification and Certification Society for man-rated usage of manned submersible at a depth of 6000 meters.