Developed by French physicist Auguste Piccard and his son Jacques, the bathyscaph Trieste was a scientific marvel that allowed unprecedented scientific, technical, and military feats in the ocean depths. France and the United States both acquired and subsequently developed variants of the original bathyscaph. While both France and the United States employed the bathyscaph as a tool for scientific investigation of the deepest ocean depths, the U.S. Navy developed and employed the Trieste for military missions as well. From its earliest years, participants in the Trieste program realized that they were making history, blazing a trail into previously unexplored and unexploited depths, developing new capabilities and opening a new frontier. Comparisons with developments in space and the space-race between the United States and the Soviet Union often were made concerning the Trieste program and contemporary developments in undersea technologies and capabilities.
The Trieste opened the entire oceans to exploration, exploitation, and operations. The bathyscaph was a first-generation system, a "Model-T" that spawned an entirely new industry and encouraged new concepts for deep-ocean naval operations. Advances in deep-sea technologies lacked the "gee-whiz" factor of the concurrent space race, but were highly significant in the development of new technology, new knowledge, and new military capabilities.
Opening the Great Depths is the story of the three Trieste deep-ocean vehicles, their officers and enlisted men, and the civilians, often told in their own words, documenting for the first time the earliest years of humanity's probing into Earth's final frontier.
Norman Polmar is an analyst, consultant, and author, specializing in naval, aviation, and technology subjects. He has been a consultant or advisor on naval issues to three Senators, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and three Secretaries of the Navy as well as to the director of the Los Alamos national laboratory, and to the leadership of the U.S., Australian, Chinese, and Israeli Navies. He has written or co-authored more than 50 published books.
Lee J. Mathers is a former Surface Warfare Officer with an intelligence subspecialty. He attended the University of Utah, Central Michigan University, and the Defense Intelligence School, the last followed by intelligence duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. He has written for the magazines Proceedings and Naval History, and was a key researcher for the Naval Institute book Project Azorian by Mr Polmar and Michael White. He now resides in Canada – working with Mr Polmar on another book.
"Opening the Great Depths is a fascinating account of the Trieste program, which enabled deep sea exploration for the first time, achieving unprecedented scientific and military feats. Polmar and Mathers do an amazing job weaving the technical details into a gripping account of the failures and successes achieved. Explorers and scientists, plus ocean and military enthusiasts will thoroughly enjoy the journey as those aboard the Trieste descended into one of Earth's most inhospitable environments – the ocean depths."
– Rick Campbell, #1 Bestselling author of The Trident Deception series
"The authors tell a good story about these remarkable vehicles, the adventures experienced and the many personal risks taken by the people involved. They also discuss the technology and construction in laymen's terms. A great read for those interested in deep ocean and submarine technology."
– Capt. Charles M. Staehle, USNR (Ret.), first pilot of DSV's-1 and TRIESTE Pilot No. 12
"Thirty years after the Cold War, much of the Navy's submarine service's huge contribution to victory is still quite secret. Even less known are the contributions of the scientists and explorers whose daring expeditions in the deepest seas made those Navy successes possible. Now the ideal co-authors are able tell those amazing true tales. Combining science and adventure, Polmar and Mathers have produced a real page-turner."
– John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy, author of Oceans Ventured and Winning the Cold War at Sea
"This is an exceptional and essential book, offering an authoritative assessment of the craft and the people who pioneered exploration of and working in the last great frontier on this planet, the deep ocean. I highly recommend it."
– James P. Delgado, aquanaut, archaeologist and author of War at Sea: A Shipwrecked History