SEAmagine submersible underwater

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Credit: SEAmagine

Have you considered adding a submersible to your yacht’s toybox?

14 May 2024 • Written by Hannah Rankine for SEAmagine

Just when you think superyachts have it all, adding a submersible to the toybox could elevate the experience to the next level. California-based company SEAmagine has been producing submersibles since 1995 with an impeccable safety record and a mission to rekindle human interaction with ocean exploration. Having amassed over 12,000 dives, its submersibles have not only graced the decks of superyachts but have also ventured into tourism, scientific research and professional projects, from National Geographic to BBC documentaries.

“In the mid-2000s, we saw yachts increase in size, which created space for submersibles on board,” says Charles Kohnen, co-founder and chairman of SEAmagine. This shift sparked a surge in demand from both explorer yacht owners and those eager to incorporate a submersible into the design plans of a new-build project.

SEAmagine builds an array of submersible models tailored to meet various requirements, but it’s the AURORA series that stands out as the ideal choice for the yachting market. BOAT takes a closer look…

Exploring the depths with panoramic visibility

Credit: SEAmagine

“Most owners are interested in viewing sea creatures or shipwrecks,” Kohnen explains, and the AURORA series excels in this regard, capable of reaching depths from 100 to 2,300 metres beneath the ocean's surface, depending on the model. Central to this experience is the remarkable visibility through the submersibles' expansive spherical bubble window. Kohnen emphasises that the singular spherical bubble design is the ultimate geometry to safely handle underwater pressure whilst providing undistorted optics, ensuring clarity and depth of vision. Unlike other bubble submersibles, the AURORA series does not have a hatch on the top of the bubble that obstructs the panoramic view. SEAmagine’s design immerses passengers in panoramic views, creating a surreal journey underwater.

Enhancing the interior experience

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When creating the AURORA series, SEAmagine ensures the utmost comfort on board. “We find that owners want capacity for larger groups of people in the submersibles so that they can share these amazing experiences with others,” Kohnen says, which is why the models have a three-to-nine-person capacity. Unlike previous designs featuring multiple smaller spheres or cylindrical shapes, SEAmagine's singular large sphere fosters a more intimate group dynamic, enhancing the shared experience. The spacious cabin allows passengers ample room to move comfortably. Owners have the flexibility to semi-customise their submersibles, tailoring interior configurations, depth ratings and hoist points to suit their yacht's specifications.

The AURORA series offers a separate piloting area at the rear for uninterrupted passenger enjoyment at the front window. Equipped with both a rear hatch window and the large front spherical window, pilots enjoy excellent visibility throughout the dive, eliminating the need for reliance on cameras for navigation. A shared panorama for all also allows for easily narrated tours. Powered by robust propulsion thrusters operating without gearboxes, these submersibles produce minimal noise, preventing disturbances to marine life and maintaining a serene environment for passengers. Other amenities include a quiet air-conditioning system and a built-in sound system for those who wish to enjoy music during their dive.

When it comes to boarding, SEAmagine excels. Sturdy fold-up handrails guide guests to the spacious entry hatch located at the rear of the submersible. This ensures easy boarding for passengers of all ages.

Innovative propulsion

Credit: SEAmagine

Built with a “control over speed” approach, SEAmagine’s AURORA series has been “designed like a drone", according to Kohnen. This philosophy is manifested in innovative propulsion systems, enabling optimal speed, control, and manoeuvrability. “You don’t want to go fast in submersibles. You want to get up close to the reef and easily hold position, and that is what our propulsion system is designed to do,” Kohnen explains. Providing the perfect balance of propulsion power and agility, the submersibles can maintain position.

SEAmagine's commitment to the environment is evident in its choice of propulsion technology. Powered by highly efficient electric propulsion systems and modular, high-quality pressure balance batteries, the submersibles minimise harm to the environment while delivering performance and reliability.

Peace of mind with safety standards

Credit: SEAmagine

Designed and built to meet the highest industry standards, each SEAmagine submersible is purpose-built with simplicity and redundancy in mind, featuring independently operated manual systems for essential functions, such as life support, ballasts, batteries and propulsion.

Double monitoring systems, such as those overseeing cabin oxygen levels, further enhance safety protocols, guaranteeing the wellbeing of all on board. Every component used, from the grade of stainless steel to the acrylic viewing windows, thrusters, batteries and cables, is carefully selected and rigorously tested, with many third-party validations.

Each submersible is subject to a comprehensive design review by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS). The ABS approves all materials used, including batteries certified to withstand depths of up to 6,000 metres. Additionally, the ABS oversees testing, conducts inspections throughout the production process and supervises sea trials, ensuring that every SEAmagine submersible meets or exceeds the highest safety standards in the industry.

A comprehensive training programme

Credit: SEAmagine

SEAmagine goes above and beyond in supporting yacht owners and captains with their submersibles, offering international technical support through a dedicated team of skilled engineers and technicians. Regardless of the yacht's location, clients can rely on prompt assistance.

SEAmagine developed the industry's first professional submersible pilot training programme in 1999 in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). Over the years, the programme has evolved into a structured training process, with over 100 licensed pilots to date. Not only does the training programme ensure pilot proficiency, but it also encompasses full crew familiarity with the submersible’s operation. Training sessions are typically conducted onboard the client's yacht with the delivered submersible, ensuring practical and hands-on learning experiences that empower crews to operate the submersible safely and effectively in diverse conditions.

To find out more information about the AURORA series for superyachts, contact the team at SEAmagine today.

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