Virgin Oceanic has surfaced!

Virgin Oceanic Expedition launched by Richard

Richard Branson, explorer Chris Welsh and Virgin Oceanic are set to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Virgin Oceanic has today announced plans to take a solo piloted submarine to the deepest points in each of the world's five oceans the first time such a feat has ever been attempted.

Richard Branson, launching Virgin Oceanic at Newport Beach, CA, said: "Virgin Oceanic will expand the reach of human exploration on our planet.

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"By promoting and utilising new technology Virgin Oceanic will aid human kinds ability to explore our Oceans, assist science in understanding our eco system and raise awareness of the challenges facing our Oceans."

Virgin Oceanic will make five dives in five oceans over two years in the world's only submarine capable of taking a human being to such extreme depths.

Up to 30 Guinness World Records could be set and Virgin Oceanic will work with leading scientific institutions to reveal what lies in vast unexplored areas in the world's ocean depths.

Each dive will be piloted by different commanders, with Chris Welsh diving to the Mariana Trench (36,201ft) with Richard Branson as back up pilot.

Richard Branson will pilot to the Puerto Rico Trench (28,232ft) the deepest trench in the Atlantic, which has never been explored before - with Chris Welsh acting as back up.

Further dives will take place in the Diamantina Trench in the Indian Ocean, South Sandwich Trenchin the Southern Ocean and Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean.

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To read more of Richard Branson's thoughts on Virgin Oceanic head over to his blog.

Watch a trailer video from Virgin Oceanic, a depth chart Virgin Oceanic infographic, and get the scientific lowdown on the expedition.

Head over to Virgin Oceanic for more information, details, photos and more.

Greg Rose

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