Sub would let you look Moby Dick in the eye

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Posted: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 12:00 am

In case Santa didn't give you everything you wanted, there's a new personal submarine.

Hawkes Ocean Technologies has announced a new craft, priced 25 percent below previous models and capable of going fast enough to “fly” alongside most large sea creatures.

The flying element is one of the more intriguing of the Hawkes craft. These submarines are naturally buoyant and submerge by turning the angle of their fins, much the way aircraft shift flaps and rudders to move through the air. The standard submarine sinks, then propels forward.

The Hawkes sub can descend to 120 meters, about as far as sunlight can reach in clear waters. Without its forward propulsion it will rise to the surface in 30 seconds. With sufficient power, the company says, the new lighter model can fully exit the water, the way some whales breach the surface.

At $1.35 million each, the one-man model still registers at the high end of water sports gear. The company's two-man sub costs $1.7 million.

“It's a luxury vehicle, so to speak, something for people with a real passion for flying and the ocean,” said Adam Wright, president of Hawkes, which is based in Richmond, Calif. “It's for luxury yachts and tourism.”

The two-man subs could travel about 6 knots. At 10 knots, Wright said, “You're able to keep up with whales, dolphins, sharks and sea lions at cruising speeds.”

Hawkes has in recent years sold about one sub a year, and also makes money by doing research and work with unmanned craft for governments and corporations.

Wright said the company was now trying to move into more manufacture of personal-use vessels. “We'd like to have a series of vessels at a multitude of prices.”

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