Underwater abode for deep-sea living open to public by 2027

The Sentinel system facilitates extended stays underwater, allowing scientists to reside at depths of up to 200 meters for as long as 28 days.
Rizwan Choudhury
The Sentinel System.
The Sentinel System.

Credits: DEEP 

In a bold initiative, DEEP, a leading research organization, has announced plans to construct an underwater habitat open to the public by 2027. Named Sentinel, this modular subsea abode aims to revolutionize underwater living, research, and observation by providing scientists unprecedented access to the depths of the ocean.

The Sentinel system is designed to facilitate extended stays underwater, allowing scientists to reside at depths of up to 200 meters for as long as 28 days. This innovative habitat offers a unique opportunity for researchers to study the continental shelves more comprehensively. The modular design is flexible enough to support everything from short-term missions to semi-permanent deployments, marking a significant shift in subsea habitation.

Expertise and location

To ensure the success of this pioneering project, DEEP has also launched its institute aimed at training a specialized cadre of divers. These divers will be instrumental in transporting the modular architecture from land to its underwater location and will oversee the habitat's long-term operation and maintenance. As for the locale, DEEP has selected the South West region and Wales in the UK, rich in marine engineering, diving, hyperbaric, and submersible expertise.

Renewable power and sustainability

Beyond its research and residential capabilities, Sentinel stands out for its focus on sustainability. The power systems will be based on a micro-grid architecture integrated with DEEP’s satellite communications buoy and a renewable energy source. Furthermore, DEEP's research team is developing a large-scale bio-reactor to manage waste, thereby preventing the need for routine tank emptying.

Safety remains a paramount concern for DEEP. The organization collaborates with the world-leading certification body DNV to ensure Sentinel becomes the world’s first subsea habitat to achieve third-party certification. DEEP is unwavering in its commitment to meet stringent safety standards.

Sentinel's multifaceted benefits

DEEP explains Sentinel's modular system is virtually limitless in its scalability. Its components can be configured, re-configured, and even relocated at depth, catering to varying mission requirements, from small, six-crew deployments to 50-crew, multi-nation research stations.

Sentinel has been engineered to operate in one atmosphere or at ambient pressure, facilitating shorter visits for academics and media professionals lacking diving qualifications and enabling more extended missions for qualified divers.

Habitability and comfort

A team of human performance and diving experts has worked on every aspect of Sentinel’s interior, ensuring the functional design and a high level of comfort and well-being for its inhabitants.

Modularity and re-deployability

The architectural modularity of Sentinel allows for seamless adjustments on the seafloor. Its estimated 20-year service life ensures that the habitat can be re-deployed globally, maximizing its utilization and optimizing its usability for various projects.

Sentinel promises to be more than just a research facility or an underwater home; it's poised to be a game-changer in how we interact with the oceans. With capabilities ranging from serving as an ‘International Space Station for the oceans’ to mimicking spatial and environmental conditions for space research, the Sentinel system ushers in a new era of marine and outer space exploration possibilities.

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