James Cameron Donates Sub to Oceanographic Institution

PHOTO: The DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible is the centerpiece of DEEPSEA CHALLENGE,
a joint scientific project by explorer and filmmaker James Cameron, the National Geographic Society and Rolex to conduct deep-ocean research.
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A year after his record-setting deep-sea dive, filmmaker James Cameron is donating his single-person, deep-sea submersible -- the Deepsea Challenger -- to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

On March 26, 2012, Cameron completed a solo dive into the Marina Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, in the sub.

David Gallo, director of special projects at WHOI, told ABC News the institution's top priority for Deepsea Challenger is to understand the engineering and design components of the "amazing vehicle."

With WHOI's new Center for Marine Robotics, Gallo and the institution hope to better understand the technology utilized on Cameron's sub and translate that to more robotic dives.

"The future will include, not only humans in subs, but robots -- and working together," Gallo said.

WHOI has plans to use the Deepsea Challenger's cameras and lighting systems on another remote vehicle for expeditions in the Caribbean this summer, according to Gallo. These systems were used to capture high-resolution 3-D images of Deepsea Challenger's dives.

The sub is set to arrive at the institution's Woods Hole, Mass., headquarters this summer.

"We have a long line of people that want to dive in that sub, but it's not on the front burners," said Gallo.

He mentioned that one of those interested in diving in Deepsea Challenger is Cameron himself.

"He will positively be back diving soon," Gallo said.

Cameron will be joining WHOI's advisory board; he will work with the private, non-profit group on new research endeavors and continue exploring of his own.

"Even though we've had an informal relationship for years ... now we have a formal relationship with Jim," Gallo said.

RELATED: James Cameron Is Finally Getting Over 'Titanic'

Gallo told ABC News that exploring the ocean is part of Cameron's dream.

"He's not doing this for a tax write-off or to create space in his garage," Gallo said of Cameron, whom he described as an "explorer with a filmmaking hobby."

The Deepsea Challenger was built in Sydney, Australia, by Acheron Project Pty., Ltd. It's the first single-person deep-sea submersible capable of manned exploration of the full depths of the ocean. Cameron and the sub descended 35,787 feet on the Mariana Trench dive last year.

Cameron is best known as director of popular films, such as "Avatar," "The Abyss," and "Titanic." But not to Gallo, who admits he has never seen any of Cameron's films from beginning to end. (He has, of course, seen clips.) To Gallo, the two share something else that very few others do.

"I think [humanity] has only explored about 5 percent of the ocean and about 1 percent of deep ocean," Gallo said. "We're driven by that."

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