[Ed. – This neglected area doesn’t come up as much for the U.S. because of one obvious reason: the deepest ocean trenches aren’t located near our homeland territory. That said, they have global implications wherever they are.]
While the United States rests on her 60-year-old laurels, China has mounted an aggressive and long-term assault on the deep ocean, or the region known as the Hadal Zone (areas deeper than 6,000 meters[19,685 ft]).
Our country’s efforts to explore these depths effectively ended in 1960 at the conclusion of Project Nekton. That was when the U.S. Navy’s Trieste I Bathyscaphe reached the deepest known part of the ocean, the Challenger Deep, with Lt. Don Walsh and Swiss explorer Jacques Piccard inside a tiny steel sphere.
China’s current efforts are being led by Professor Cui Weicheng of Shanghai Ocean University and more recently, the Rainbow Fish Ocean Technology Company. Their current plan is to deploy 11 km (6.8 mi)-capable submersibles in 2020 to explore the deepest sections of the Marianas Trench. According to the South China Morning Post, “Beijing has listed deep-sea scientific exploration as one of the key projects in their five-year plan to 2020.