An inventor has developed a submersible vehicle powered by a dolphin-style fin

An inventor from Georgia, USA and a marine biologist from West Chester University in Pennsylvania have teamed up to attempt a transatlantic voyage in a human-powered submarine.

Inventor Ted Ciamillo plans to pedal nearly 2,000 nautical miles from the Cape Verde islands to Barbados at a depth of around two metres, surfacing at night to sleep under a tent erected on top of the sub, according to New Scientist magazine.

The body of the 5m-long vessel has a stainless steel frame, a polycarbonate shell and a dolphin-fin propulsion system made from aluminium and titanium.

It will operate as a “wet” sub, full of water at all times. Buoyancy is provided by PVC foam packed into the shell and from air bladders that can be filled or emptied to keep the vessel at the desired depth.

The Lumocet will use a dolphin tail powered by pedals and levers operated by hand. It’s “like a Stairmaster crossed with a cross-country ski machine”, he says.

Ciamillo will be followed by a support boat for the entire journey and in bad weather he’ll take the sub below the surface and sit out the storm, although if he goes too deep for too long and he then surfaces too quickly he risks getting the “bends”.

Marine biologists are interested in the vehicle as a method of exploring the shallowest strata of the ocean in a virtually silent vehicle. The Lumocet will be fitted with video cameras to monitor wildlife during the voyage.

The competition in human-powered subs is hotly contested every few years backed by an organisation called International Submarine Races .

Jerry Rovner, director of operations for the annual International Submarine Races in Bethesda, Maryland, said: “It’s been our experience that the fish-design boats don’t have enough power. We get them in every race… he’s not going to get very far unless he’s superhuman.”

The Lumocet is undergoing sea trials and the voyage is set to begin in November.

For the full story, see: New Scientist magazine