Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

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Trieste: 60th Anniversary Event

Trieste's descent to Challenger Deep transformed undersea exploration.  For the first time, a manned vessel reached the deepest part of the ocean.   The historic voyage launched an era of deep-sea discoveries and a renewed, worldwide pursuit in underwater research. 

The bathyscaph Trieste, a manned submersible, dove to the bottom of the Mariana Trench as part of the United States Navy's Project Nekton series of test dives.   U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh and oceanographer Jacques Piccard piloted the watercraft to a depth of nearly 36,000 feet.  Through a cloud of sediment stirred up by Trieste's landing, the crew saw signs of life on the ocean floor. 

After Trieste surfaced from her momentous dive, she served the U.S. Navy in various capacities, including search and recovery missions, and inspired decades of marine research.   In 1963, Trieste found the sunken and lost nuclear submarine USS Thresher (SSN-593) off the coast of New England.   Today, the U.S. Navy continues to probe the ocean during deep-searches, sea floor mapping projects, and underwater archaeological excavations.