Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

Bathyscaphe Trieste, 1958-1963

Designed by Swiss scientist Auguste Piccard, Trieste was launched in August 1953 and operated in the Mediterranean.   Purchased by the U.S. Navy in 1958, the bathyscaphe was transported to San Diego, California.   Outfitted with a stronger pressure sphere in October 1959 for Project Nekton, Trieste then participated in a series of deep dives in the Marianas Trench.  Conducting the mission was Jacques Piccard, son of the bathyscaphe's designer, and Lieutenant Don Walsh, USN.   On January 23, 1960, after a descending nine hours and 6.78 miles, she reached a record depth of 35,840 feet in Challenger Deep, the deepest point in any of the Earth's oceans.   Following the loss of USS Thresher (SSN-593), Trieste was transported to the east coast by USS Point Defiance (LSD-31) to assist in the investigation of the tragedy.   In August 1963, the bathyscaphe found the nuclear submarine's remains off New England, 1400 fathoms below the surface.   Retired by the Navy following this mission, some of her components were utilized for Trieste IITrieste is now part of the Undersea Exploration exhibit at the U.S. National Museum of the U.S. Navy in Washington, D.C.  

Image:  428-GX-KN-679:   Bathyscaphe Trieste, 1959.   Floating crane YD-193 swings the bathyscaphe onto SS Santa Maria for shipment to Guam.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.  (2016/02/17).