U.S. Rep. Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (D-MP) is introducing this week a congressional resolution honoring the 50th anniversary of the deepest descent into the ocean. On Jan. 23, 1950, the U.S. Navy bathyscaphe Trieste reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench with two explorers aboard, USN Capt. Don Walsh and Swiss scientist Jacques Piccard. The resolution kicks off a series of events throughout the year that Sablan hopes will bring positive attention to the Northern Marianas and the newly created Mariana Trench Marine National Monument.
“The Trieste dive was such a remarkable feat of science and technology - which has never been repeated,” said Kilili.
“Not only is the bravery and accomplishment of Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard important to celebrate, but this historic anniversary is a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate the Mariana Trench National Monument and the world-class resource right off our shore.
“I am hopeful that the Trieste anniversary is just one of many ways that we will find to encourage people to visit the Marianas now that the Trench has been declared a place of special scientific and educational importance.”
Sablan is schedule to meet today with the representatives of the Marianas Visitors Association, the business community, and Friends of the Monument to share with them the resolution and other activities he is working on in Washington to commemorate the dive.
The congressman has also kept Gov. Benigno R. Fitial apprised and invited the full participation of the Governor's Office in planning the anniversary year.
“I would hope that parallel to the events in DC there will be efforts here in the Marianas to raise awareness of the importance of the Trieste dive and bring people here to experience the wonder of our ocean resources,” he said.
The Trieste was approximately 50 ft. long and consisted of several large buoyancy chambers above, with a pressurized sphere, 6.5 feet in diameter, slung beneath for the two crewmen. The dive to the record-breaking depth of 35,761 feet took over eight hours to accomplish. No manned vessel had ever before reached such a depth. And only in 1995 and 2009 was the feat repeated by unmanned, robotic craft.
Sablan's resolution also recognizes the ongoing value of ocean exploration and the importance of marine research, oceanography and ocean education.
“I think this commemoration underscores the value of having a Mariana Trench National Monument Visitors Center in our islands.”
Sablan introduced legislation last year to establish a visitors center in the Northern Marianas.
“Our young people and tourists should have a place where they can learn of the wonders of the Trench and see or experience something of what Walsh and Piccard experienced in the Challenger Deep 50 years ago this week.” (PR)