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KONGSBERG EM 124 Sonar Plays Integral Role in First Human Reaching Deepest Point in Atlantic

Utilized for precision mapping, the EM 124 produced sea floor bathymetry to map the Puerto Rico Trench for the unprecedented dive.

Kongsberg Underwater Technology, Inc. announces that their newest multibeam echo sounder, the EM 124, installed aboard the DSSV Pressure Drop, played a key role in the deepest solo human submersible dive in the Atlantic led by the Five Deeps Expedition team. Victor Vescovo, in his private submersible, reached the bottom of the Puerto Rico Trench, a depth of 8,376 meters. The EM 124 was specifically used to precisely map the ocean floor to determine the deepest point in the trench prior to the dive.

The EM 124, released in 2018, is the fifth generation of a range of new multibeam systems from Kongsberg Maritime and is the successor of the highly accomplished EM 122, the de-facto standard in deep water multibeam systems. It is a modular, state-of-the-art multibeam echosounder that performs high resolution seabed mapping from shallow waters to full ocean depths (11,000 m) with unparalleled swath coverage and resolution. It has a broad range of functionality, including the simultaneous collection of seabed and water column imagery. These capabilities save time and increase efficiency during the planning, execution and analysis phase of a mission. The low-noise electronics are compact and flexible in design for easy installation and integration into a vessel of any size.

Five Deeps Expedition
Image courtesy Five Deeps Expedition.

“The EM 124 is already a proven success, with this very first delivery producing fantastic results,” said Chris Hancock, vice president of sales for Kongsberg Underwater Technology. “The Five Deeps Expedition leaders and the crew of the DSSV Pressure Drop were excellent to collaborate with throughout the installation and commissioning phase of this project. Our expert technical team was able to optimize system performance and conclude successful sea acceptance trials just prior to the scheduled dive in the Puerto Rico Trench. Over the next 12 months, we will continue to work together and support the expedition remotely through our Mapping Cloud service.”

“The EM 124 is arguably the most advanced underwater sonar currently installed on a civilian vessel,” said a Five Deeps Expedition representative. “It produced digital 3D renderings of the sea floor that were used to identify and verify the deepest point in the trench that ultimately determined the dive location. This was crucial to the success of the mission.”

The Five Deeps Expedition is the first manned expedition in a commercially-certified submersible seeking to reach the deepest points in the five oceans by the end of 2019. The journey will cover 40,000 nautical miles (74,000 km) and the submersible will have descended through at least 72,000 m (236,220 ft.) of water.

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Gunvor Hatling Midtbø
Vice President, Communications