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The Story of Alvin the deep-submergence vehicle

We all know Alvin the Chipmunk, don’t we? Well, apparently he isn’t the only famous hero with that name who has an interesting story. In this article I’m going to tell you about the Story of a submarine that was built to discover the depths of the ocean and survived more than any other vehicles on its way down there.


Alvin (also called DSV-2) was built in Minnesota by the General Mills Electronic Group in the year 1964 and is owned by the United States. It was named after Allyn Vine, who was the prime mover of the project. Alvin is the first of its class with a length of 7.1 m and a height of 2.3m. It can go 6.500 m deep and has an endurance of 72 hours with three crew members.

The deep-submergence vehicle first became famous when it located a submerged hydrogen bomb in 1966 which had been lost during a midair accident of the United States Air force over the Palomares in Spain. Thanks to Alvin the bomb was pulled out safely. But that wasn’t its only adventure. In July 1967 Alvin was attacked by a swordfish during dive 202. The swordfish got stuck in the submarine during the attack and Alvin had to go back to the surface, where they had to remove the fish, which sadly didn’t survive the attack unlike Alvin, which made history again, when it found an old aircraft fighter from World War 2 in the year 1968.

Its downfall came when it was transported in October 1968. As Alvin was lowered onto another ship two steel cables snapped and it fell into the water. Luckily the three crew members that were on board were able to save themselves but Alvin sank 1.500m deep into the Atlantic ocean. Because of severe weather issues it took one year to rescue the submarine and pull it out of the water. Because Alvin seemed quite intact except for damage at the stern, recovery was attempted even though no submarine this big had ever been fixed before. Well…miracles happen and just like that Alvin was ready to go out again in August 1969.

Apparently his career just wasn’t supposed to end because after its recovery it made many more discoveries like defining the crustal accretion zone, which is basically the formation of ocean crust at mid ocean ridges, in 1974 or discovering the deep sea hydrothermal vents in 1977. Its biggest and most interesting adventure must have been the exploration of the Titanic 1986. Alvin carried Dr. Robert Ballard and two companions to the ship wreckage, where they were able to make detailed photographic surveys and inspections of the ship. Alvin even brought the director of the movie, ,,Titanic”, James Cameron to the wreck in 1995, so he could get inspiration for the movie.

All in all you could say that Alvin ,the deep-submergence vehicle, has had a very exciting career. With his nearly sixty years, he is still in action, exploring the unknown depths of our oceans.

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