“DEEPSEA CHALLENGER had both booms extended and all her lights blazing,” said underwater photographer Simon Christidis. “I tracked her downward until she was swallowed by the darkness.”
Just before noon, the Mermaid Sapphire lay half a mile away from the island on an ocean simmering with heat. We could smell wood smoke from a cook fire somewhere inside the thick green jungle behind the beach.
Early this morning, on our way into Rabaul, we passed the ash-sloped volcanoes just east of town. Backlit by a blood-red sun rising out of the South Pacific Ocean, Kombiu, Taranguna, and Tavurvur seemed like ancient, dark-shouldered warriors guarding the harbor.
Today, the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER became the world’s deepest diving submersible. But the planned 26,247-foot (8,000-meter) dive ended abruptly before the sub could reach the floor of the New Britain Trench.
On ships, people fall. They trip on steel combings and tear up an ankle. They tumble down a stairwell and rip open a knee.