Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sir Richard Branson unveils underwater "plane" for deep sea tours

Virgin Limited Edition enters the underwater world, welcoming Necker Nymph, a DeepFlight three-person aero submarine. Likened to an underwater aircraft, this open cockpit winged sub is the first of its kind to hit the market - would Sir Richard Branson want it any other way?

Designed and built by renowned engineer, Graham Hawkes, of Hawkes Ocean Technologies, Necker Nymph represents a new class of high-performance, positively buoyant vehicles which safely extend the overall capabilities of scuba, while offering the unique experience of underwater flight. Unlike all conventional subs which use ballast to sink in the water, Necker Nymph uses downward 'lift' on the wings to fly down to depth.

Available either when chartering Necker Belle, the luxury 105 foot catamaran, or when staying on Necker Island, underwater flight on Necker Nymph takes exploration to another level. Gliding on the water's surface like an aeroplane on a runway, one of the three pilots will operate the joystick to smoothly dive down, and the thrilling experience begins. Uncover ancient shipwrecks, fly side-by-side with dolphins, or spyhop with whales; the options are endless. With the flexibility to glide peacefully over glorious reefs or bank adventurously in 360 degree turns, the sub is hydrobatic. Individual "wind shields" remove the pressure of slipstream, enabling comfortable speed and ranges previously unthinkable without enclosing the pilots. The open cockpits afford near ideal 360 degree viewing for occupants, creating a uniquely open experience. Dives can last up to two hours.

Guests follow standard SCUBA procedures and will be trained/accompanied by a certified Necker Nymph pilot. Importantly, like all DeepFlight subs, Necker Nymph has near-zero environmental impact. Its positive buoyancy prevents the sub from landing on a reef, and its low light and noise emissions ensure the fragile ocean ecosystems remain undisturbed.

Ultra-lightweight and compact, this newest DeepFlight sub was designed specifically for Necker Belle, but can also be launched from shore. When taking Necker Belle for 7-nights' exclusive hire, the sub is available at a weekly rate of US$ 25,000. The sub may at times be berthed on Necker Island, so if planning a visit, make sure to ask if she's available!

Virgin Limited Edition is a collection of unique retreats chosen for their stunning locations, magnificent surroundings and offering a sense of fun, style, luxury and exceptional personal service. The group includes Necker Island in the Caribbean's British Virgin Islands, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa, Sa Terra Rotja in Mallorca; The Roof Gardens and Babylon Restaurant in London; Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco, The Lodge in Verbier, Necker Belle, a 105 foot luxury catamaran and Necker Nymph, a three man aero submarine.

For bookings please call 0800-716-919 (toll free) or +44(0)208-600-0430 alternatively visit http://www.virginlimitededition.com for more details.

Hawkes Ocean Technologies is a privately-held company based in the San Francisco area that designs and builds the world's most advanced manned and remote vehicles for deep ocean exploration. Founder, Graham Hawkes, is recognized as the world leader in pioneering craft to access the oceans. Hawkes Ocean Technologies is currently commercializing the DeepFlight winged submersible technology, and most recently has built the world's deepest submersible, the 36,000 foot DeepFlight. Challenger, for the late adventurer Steve Fossett, and DeepFlight Super Falcon for venture capitalist, Tom Perkins.


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