Surrounded by seas in the west, south and east, India is blessed with a coastline of more than 7,500 km. With this in mind, India launched its first manned ocean mission, ‘Samudrayan’, to continue its exploration of the seas under the Deep Ocean Mission launched in 2018 with an annual budget of Rs 6,000 crore. With this, India has joined the elite club of countries, such as the USA, Russia, Japan, France and China, to have such underwater vehicles for undersea activities.

The Government has approved the Deep Ocean Mission to be carried out by the Union Department of Geosciences with a total budget of Rs 4,077 crore for 5 years.

India’s relationship with its coasts has always affected its economy, politics, and social and cultural setting. But it’s time to look further afield by diving deep into the research and studies with this mission. The deep sea has a lot to offer, as India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) spans more than 2.2 million square kilometers and in the deep sea, it lies “unexplored and unused”, according to information provided on the website of the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) and according to the Government of India, The naval mission will also help understand and mitigate the climate change crisis.

The expedition was launched on October 29 by Union Minister Jitendra Singh at the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT). He tweeted pictures of the Sagar Nidhi, a modern research vessel that will be part of the Samudrayan. He said other institutions will also be integrated to develop technologies for the mission and explore the possibilities of mining, biodiversity, clean energy and fresh water.

Singh also sailed in Sagar Nidhi from the Chennai port, interacted with scholars and discussed the various projects in progress. Singh also said that India has made tremendous progress in science and technology, and when an Indian went into space as part of the Gaganyaan program, another was diving into the depths of the ocean.

Here’s everything you need to know about India’s first manned ocean mission, Samudrayan:

1. The Samudrayan project will be part of the Rs.6,000 crore Deep Ocean Mission, which is being undertaken by NIOT.

2. Matsya 6000, a deep-sea vehicle, under the Samudrayan initiative, capable of carrying three people in a titanium alloy personnel field with a diameter of 2.1 meters with an endurance of 12 hours and an additional 96 hours in case of emergency.

3. Specialized technology facilitates deep ocean exploration of non-living resources such as polymetallic manganese nodules, gas hydrates, hydrothermal sulphides and cobalt crusts.

4. The Matzia 6000 will be ready for qualifying trials by December 2024, according to a NIOT official.

5. Scientists inside Matsya 6000 will be able to explore the oceans, survey the ocean floor and collect data and samples.

6. Domestic efforts are underway at NIOT for vehicle design and some sub-systems are being realized from India as well as from the global market towards their own use in the high pressure deep sea environment.

7. NIOT has developed a “personnel scope” made of mild steel with the local industry for an operating capacity of 500 meters and has been tested for use according to the International Classification and Accreditation Agency for Classified Human Operation during the sea trial this month using the Ocean Research vessel Sagar Nidhi in the Bay of Bengal.

8. The deep-sea vehicle must be maneuvered on the deep sea floor at 6 nautical degrees using the battery propulsion system for 4 hours at a depth of 6000 meters.

9. The vehicle is a platform for transporting any devices, sensors, etc. to the deep sea for experiments/observations in the presence of a human being.

10. This program will increase India’s capacity through infrastructural facility such as High Thickness Welding Facility and Deep Ocean Simulator.

A NIOT official said that during the programme, new skill sets were added under capacity building that would pave the way for the development of the industry within the country under the “Atmanirbhar Bharat”.

“The system design, operating concept, function and safety of sub-components, emergency rescue, and fault situation analysis are reviewed and approved in accordance with the rules of the International Society for Classification and Certification for Human Use of Manned Submarines at a depth of 6000 meters,” according to a NIOT press release.

(with PTI input)

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