Challenger Deep is the deepest known point in the Earth’s seabed (the oceans) by direct measurement from deep-diving submersibles, remotely operated vehicles, benthic landers, and sonar bathymetry. In 2012, film director and deep-sea explorer James Cameron reached 35,756 feet (10,898 m). In 2019, Victor Vescovo proved Challenger Deep was lower at 35,853 ft (10,928 m).
Challenger Deep is at the southern end of the Mariana Trench, a crescent-shaped trench in the Western Pacific Ocean at 11°22.4′N 142°35.5′E. To get there, you arrive in Guam and take a boat 200 miles southwest. The Pacific Islands below Japan and to the east of the Philippines today are divided into four jurisdictions and have strong ties to the United States:
- Northern Mariana Islands – an organized, unincorporated Commonwealth of the US (like Puerto Rico.)
- Guam – an organized, unincorporated territory of the US (like the US Virgin Islands.)
Sovereign states that have a Compact of Free Association (COFA) with the United States:
- Federated States of Micronesia – established 1979, COFA effective 1986.
- Republic of the Marshall Islands – established 1979, COFA effective 1986.
- Republic of Palau – established 1981, COFA effective 1994.
Mariana Trench and Depth
The Mariana Trench is not only deep, it is long, too. It’s 5 x the length of the Grand Canyon or 1,580 miles long (2543 km). At only 43 miles wide (70km), it is also narrow. At the very bottom of the Mariana Trench is Challenger Deep, which is the lowest point on the Earth’s crust.
To understand just how deep that is, let’s compare Mt. Everest at 29,029 feet (8,848 m) above sea level to Challenger Deep. Here we find Challenger Deep is 6,824 feet (2,080 m) deeper than Everest is tall. If Everest were put into Challenger Deep, it would still be over a mile underwater.
Once down below, Challenger Deep consist of 3 pools. Western, Central and Eastern, which can be seen by sonar bathymetry in the following map by Victor Vescovo. The darkest blue color represents the deepest locations and to date, the Eastern pool is where the deepest location has been found.
Paul Hansen (Sept 15, 1947 – May 19, 2020), Guardian Angel
Paul passed away at RJH after a brief battle with cancer. Paul was instrumental in helping Vanessa plan for her dive, which was difficult for many reasons, not least of all Covid-19. Vanessa dedicated her Challenger Deep dive to Paul Hansen, who passed away before the dive took place. She wore a Canadian Submariners Dolphins Badge on her dive suit in Paul’s honour and decorated a Styrofoam cup with a picture of his badge.
Paul was born in Yellowknife and raised in Calgary. As a young boy, he contacted polio (1953), but eventually recovered. After an active childhood, he joined the navy on his 17th birthday, spending half of his nine years in submarine service on HMCS Grilse and Rainbow. He was a volunteer firefighter and ambulance attendant and after retirement volunteered endlessly. He spent countless hours with the Submariners Association of Canada executive, for which he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal.
For Vanessa, Paul Hansen was a trusted friend and advisor who became a Guardian Angel.