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Matsya 6000: All you need to know about India's first manned submersible

After a successful mission to the Moon, India is now all set to dive 6,000 metres underwater. Read on to get all the details about India's first manned submersible

Matsya 6000 (Photo: X @KirenRijiju)

Matsya 6000 (Photo: X @KirenRijiju)

BS Web Team New Delhi
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday shared pictures and video of the "Matsya 6000" submersible, which is a part of the Samudrayaan mission.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), the Minister of Earth Sciences said that India's first manned Deep Ocean Mission, "Samudrayaan", plans to send three humans to six-km ocean depth in a submersible to study the deep sea resources and biodiversity assessment.

"The project will not disturb the ocean ecosystem. The Deep Ocean Mission supports the 'blue economy' vision of PM Narendra Modi and envisages sustainable utilisation of ocean resources for economic growth of the country, improve livelihoods and jobs, and preserve ocean ecosystem health," Rijiju said.
"Our scientists, researchers and engineers are fully devoted to make the Deep Ocean Mission very successful in a sustainable manner," he added.
What do we know about the Matsya 6000?

The Matsya 6000 is a three-person submersible that will be able to go 6,000 metres under the sea. The vessel is being developed by Chennai's National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT).

Rijiju wrote on X that the initial journey would be only 600 metres and vowed that the submersible would not "disturb the marine ecosystem."

A Times of India (ToI) report said that the Matsya 6000 will likely undergo trials in early 2024 in the Bay of Bengal.

Structure of Matsya 6000

The newspaper also quoted NIOT director GA Ramadass saying that the Matsya 6000 is a 2.1-diameter sphere.

Made of 80mm-thick titanium alloy, it will be able to withstand a pressure 600 times greater than that at sea level.

The Matsya 6000 will be able to operate from 12 to 16 hours straight and will have an oxygen supply of 96 hours.

"Except for the sphere, we have redundancy for everything. Sometimes double, sometimes triple redundancy. An official sea trial will be certified, and we have gone with DNV-GL for certification. We will also follow standard operating procedure such as deploying the submersible from a ship, which will remain on the surface right above the submersible for easy communication with the underwater vehicle," Ramadass told ToI.

Scientists are also taking a relook at its design after the Titan submersible disaster earlier this year in which all five passengers, including the CEO of the submersible company, died.

"When we were in the planning stage, there was a proposal to use carbon fibre for our submersible but we eventually firmly ruled it out and have insisted on a titanium enclosure," Ramadass told The Hindu earlier this year.

"Carbon fibre is strong but is not fracture-resistant. At these depths, anything other than titanium is not recommended, "he added.

Ramadass further said that all research missions globally rely on titanium and that the Matsya 6000 also has syntactic foam.

This is a flotation device that will rise to the top of the ocean — thus helping to find the submersible even in case it cannot resurface, he said.

The Matsya 6000 will also feature the ultra-short baseline acoustic positioning system (USBL). This will allow the mothership carrying the transponder to send information and the submersible to respond, which will then let the mothership know where the submersible is.

Only five nations – France, the US, China, Russia and Japan – have thus far created many submersibles.

What will Matsya 6000 do?

According to Indiatimes, the Matsya 6,000 will look at chemosynthetic biodiversity in hydrothermal vents and low-temperature methane seeps in the ocean.

According to NDTV, the Matsya 6000 will also promote tourism and ocean literacy.

System design, concept of operation, subcomponents functionality and integrity, emergency rescue, and failure mode analysis are reviewed and certified as per the rules of the International Association of Classification and Certification Society for man-rated usage of manned submersibles at a depth of 6000 metres.

The Samudrayaan project is slated to explore the ocean depths for resources.

The mission will scout for precious metals such as cobalt, copper and manganese, according to the ToI report.

The Indiatimes reported that the project will also examine the biodiversity of the ocean.

Matysa 6000 launch date

Dr Jitendra Singh, the Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences, earlier this year said the Samudrayaan project is likely to be ready to go by 2026.

The Samudrayaan project is part of India's Rs 4,077-crore Deep Ocean Mission.

Rijiju, in June, had said work on the submersible was progressing as scheduled and that it would be ready soon.

"The Samudrayaan, comprising manned and unmanned exploration, is a very critical effort started by the ministry of earth sciences. The unmanned mission has gone beyond 7,000 metres, while the submersible for the manned mission is under construction," the minister said.

"I will be overseeing the progress of the construction with our scientists and engineers. I hope we will complete it on time," the minister said.

India's role in ocean exploration

Rijiju further said that India will have to play a critical and leadership role in the exploration of the ocean and develop resources in a sustainable manner for a balanced ecosystem.

"Similar to space exploration, we need to go deeper into the ocean and do research. We must be prepared to go much deeper and make India proud… Life in the ocean and life on the land are directly connected," Rijiju said.

"We must build our future more secure and enrich ourselves with better knowledge systems, live with dignity and respect nature. God has been kind to us. Whatever has been gifted to us through nature must be preserved," the minister said.

Rijiju added that the initiative would send out a strong positive message that the government is concerned about the lives on land as well as the ocean.

He also called upon the NIOT scientists to showcase their research outcomes, as these are basically meant to benefit the people. Success stories should be told to people in a better and more candid manner, he added.

He regretted that the blue economy's contribution to the national GDP is less than 10 per cent.

"We are underperforming. Smaller countries with shorter coastlines have larger contributions to their national economy. This means India will have to ensure that oceans do not remain as a vast potent canvas but utilise the resources in the best possible manner," he added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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First Published: Sep 18 2023 | 10:28 AM IST

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