DESTINATIONS OF THE FUTUREOcean

Exclusive Interview with Patrick Lahey, CEO of Triton Submarines

Patrick Lahey, CEO and Co-Founder of Triton SubmarinesThis article is a part of Destinations of the Future – OCEAN partnership with Robb Report UK

Patrick Lahey, CEO and Co-Founder of Triton Submarines, embarked on his journey to lead one of the world’s most intriguing companies in his early days as a diving enthusiast. Under his leadership, Triton has emerged as a leader in the creation of advanced submersibles, offering unparalleled experiences in luxury underwater travel. With notable collaborations with figures such as Ray Dalio and James Cameron, Triton Submarines is pushing the frontiers of oceanic exploration, from capturing the first images for the Giant Squid documentary to conducting groundbreaking expeditions to the most remote and unexplored regions of the world’s oceans, like the ambitious Five Deeps expedition .

Q. What was the pivotal moment that ignited the idea of starting Triton Submarines?

A.

My journey into submersibles began at a young age, starting with diving at 13 and piloting my first human-occupied submersible at 21. The profound impact of that experience drove me to devote my career to submersible technology. Triton was founded in 2007 to cater to private yacht owners with a passion for the ocean. Our submersibles have evolved beyond recreation, now serving as platforms for scientific research, filmmaking, and archaeology. It’s fulfilling to see our creations contribute to oceanic knowledge and advocacy.

Triton Submarines
Triton Submarines

Q. Why do you think ocean exploration receives less funding compared to space exploration, and how can we change this narrative?

A.

The comparison between ocean and space exploration is tempting, but they’re fundamentally different experiences. Submersible diving offers a unique, tranquil perspective of our ocean planet, which is teeming with life and crucial for our survival, unlike the lifeless vacuum of space. We need to highlight the emotional and profound experiences of ocean exploration to shift public interest and funding towards understanding and protecting our oceans.

Q. Do you foresee a potential for democratising submersible travel, making it more accessible to a wider audience?

A.

The interest in submersible travel has grown significantly, driven by technological advancements and a shift towards valuing unique, meaningful experiences over material possessions. Yachts have evolved from status symbols to platforms for adventure, incorporating submersibles for exploration. This trend towards experiential investment suggests a bright future for making submersible travel more accessible to a wider audience.”

Triton Submarines
Triton Submarines

Q. How has submersible design evolved over the years, and what technological advancements are on the horizon?

A.

Submersible design has been transformed by advancements in material technology, electronics, and analytical software, enabling us to create products with capabilities once hard to imagine. From enhanced battery energy densities improving endurance and safety to lighting systems mimicking sunlight underwater, every aspect has seen significant innovation. Our range of submersibles now includes models capable of diving from 100 metres to full ocean depth, made possible by recent breakthroughs in acrylic manufacturing and design software.

Q. What types of submersibles does Triton produce, and what applications do they serve?

A.

Triton’s range includes the Triton 3300/3 MKII, our most successful model, used by adventurers, researchers, and filmmakers. Our submersibles have explored all over the world, from the Arctic to the Galapagos, playing crucial roles in documentaries like the BBC’s Blue Planet series. The versatility of our subs allows for a wide range of deep ocean missions, equipped with an array of additional equipment as needed by our clients.

Triton Submarines
Triton Submarines

Q. What prompted the development of the Triton 36000/2 with its titanium hull, and what groundbreaking discoveries do you hope to make with this advanced submersible?

A. The Triton 36000/2 was developed to meet Victor Vescovo’s ambitious goal of diving to the deepest points in each of the world’s oceans. Unlike the initial concept of a simple steel ball, we insisted on creating a fully accredited, comfortable, and safe submersible for two, capable of repeated deep dives. This submersible has already contributed to significant oceanic discoveries during the Five Deeps Expedition and continues to represent a monumental achievement in ocean exploration.

Q. As a seasoned explorer who has ventured to the Mariana Trench and beyond, what are some of the most fascinating creatures you’ve encountered in the deep sea?

A. From early dives recovering pieces of the space shuttle Challenger to filming giant squids in their natural habitat, each mission has left an indelible impression. The opportunity to witness the deep sea’s biodiversity firsthand, such as during a vertical transect observing the migration of deep-sea creatures, underscores the importance of human-occupied vehicles in ocean exploration. These experiences highlight the ocean’s wonders and the critical role of submersibles in expanding our understanding.

Triton Submarines
Triton Submarines

Q. How has the tragic sinking of the OceanGate submersible in 2023 impacted consumer interest in submersibles like those manufactured by Triton?

A. The OceanGate incident was a profound tragedy, emphasising the uncompromising nature of deep ocean exploration. Despite the incident, the importance of continuing deep-sea exploration remains clear, with increased interest in investing in safe, certified deep-diving submersibles. The incident has reinforced the necessity of adhering to stringent safety standards and certifications, ensuring the continued advancement of oceanic exploration.

Q. Despite the OceanGate disaster, there has not been a single fatality involving submersibles in over 50 years. How does Triton ensure the safety of its submersibles?

A. Triton’s unblemished safety record is a testament to our commitment to certification and rigorous testing of every component. This dedication to safety, combined with the sector’s longstanding safe operation history, underscores the effectiveness of current regulations and the importance of certification. Triton’s continued compliance with these standards is a cornerstone of our operational protocols, ensuring the safety and reliability of our submersibles.

Triton Submarines
Triton Submarines

Q. What were the key milestones in Triton Submarines’ journey from a small startup to a leading manufacturer of submersibles?

A. Triton’s journey from inception to becoming a leader in submersible technology is marked by our commitment to innovation, safety, and customer satisfaction. Delivering submersibles that push the boundaries of deep-sea exploration while maintaining an unwavering focus on safety and reliability has garnered us the highest level of customer loyalty in the industry. Our achievements, including setting records and contributing to groundbreaking scientific research, reflect our dedication to the advancement of ocean exploration. 

by Elena Leo, Director of Editorial at WAWW