OceanX has wrangled an impressive A-list ensemble for its latest cutting-edge vessel. The nonprofit ocean research organisation enlisted none other than American filmmaker James Cameron to design a Hollywood-style studio aboard the new 285-footer to help get rare ocean footage to the masses.
The behemoth builds upon the legacy of the first research vessel in the OceanX fleet, M/V Alucia, and previously went by the name of Alucia 2. Now it’s known as OceanXplorer and the company is billing it “the most advanced combined marine research and media vessel in existence.” It will travel to the most remote corners of the world and then stream its findings to audiences globally via Cameron’s high-tech media center.
The vessel actually began life as a former offshore survey ship, Volstad Surveyor, but was completely retrofitted by Damen Shiprepair in Rotterdam. The rebuild, which the Dutch yard recently completed, was no easy feat. The interior and exterior redesign was spearheaded by Steve Gresham of Gresham Yacht Design, while the naval architects at Skipsteknisk took care of the state-of-the-art research facilities. It required gutting the existing accommodation to make space for the laboratories, workshops and the aforementioned movie studio. It also involved the integration of a heli hangar in the superstructure, a submarine hangar and a 40-tonne crane and A-frame to launch heavy equipment.
That equipment will be used to explore and map the depths of the oceans and includes underwater drones, two manned Triton submersibles that can dive to depths exceeding 3,280 feet, along with an ROV and AUV that can plunge 19,685 feet. The video and data captured by this gear will eventually stream to social media feeds and classrooms in real-time thanks to the vessel’s underwater optical modem.
The footage should look top-notch, too. According to OceanX, custom lighting rigs and housings make the vessel’s submersibles the only in existence that can create images using 8K RED cameras while 19,685 feet deep. We would expect nothing less from Cameron, who developed the studio in consultation with noted production designer N.C. Page Buckner (OneNight in Miami, The Amazing Spiderman, Iron Man 2) and the Avatar Alliance Foundation.
We won’t have to wait long to see the vessel in action, either. OceanXplorer will be chronicled in a new six-part series on National Geographic. Mission OceanX (working title), which is co-produced by OceanXMedia, BBC Studios and Cameron, will follow the vessel as it explores the farthest reaches of the world’s oceans. The hope is that it will become a recurring series, focussing on a different ocean each season.
“The ship OceanXplorer will take ocean explorers to never-before-seen undersea worlds and allow them to beam back what they encounter via social media, digital experiences and a TV show,” Ray Dalio, co-Founder of OceanX, said in a press release. “It will be mind-blowing.” Count us in, Captain.
Check out more images of OceanXplorer below: