by Ray Boland
I walked across the gangway from the pier to the deck of
the ship. There it sat, in its hangar on the aft deck to
my right. My first impression was that of a giant bug. The
front of it was populated by two insect like arms. Also
adding to it's insect like appearance were cameras, lights,
sonars, tracking units, sampling units, and strobes bristling
off like so many antennae, from the front to its top. Its
legs were short, yet spindly, and seemed too thin to support
its weight. Finally three large view ports, like compound
eyes, stared out at me.
hangar was deserted. I walked around the sub once, careful
not to stumble over the tie downs or the sub's own carriage.
I tentatively reached out and touched the side of the sphere,
which jutted down beneath it's floatation collar. The metal
was cold and solid, painted snow white. The whole sub body
was snow white, except for its accouterments of cameras
and arms, and it's sail. Moving working parts were metal
or black. The sail perched high up top was a bright orange.
sub was about 30 feet long, and about 12 feet high. Above
my head, from the second floor of the hangar was a gangway
to the top of the sub, it looked like a boarding platform.
I walked around the sub again. Despite it's spindly appearance
from the front, the rest of it was smooth and hydrodynamic.
Only two thrusters jutted out from it's side.
was the machine that was going to take me to the bottom
of the ocean and return m safely to the surface. This was
the machine that would protect me from the weight of the
water, from the pressure of the deep. There would be an
equivalent 40 earth atmospheres pressing down on the sub;
about 600 pounds per square inch of pressure! Fortunately
it is rated for 2000 meters, 200 atmospheres of pressure.
I ran my fingertips over the solid stainless steel which
we would be in.