Many couples choose an ocean wedding on a cruise ship. Coming soon, they’ll get the chance to exchange vows 600 feet under the ocean.
In September, Scenic Cruises announced a long-term partnership with Triton Submarines for the “supply and management of submersibles aboard the Scenic Eclipse Discovery Yacht series,” according to their press release. “Under the agreement, Triton Submarines will supply a first-of-its kind Triton 660/9 AVA for the Scenic Eclipse II, a vessel currently under construction, which will allow up to eight Scenic guests plus their pilot to share an exciting sensory dive experience to depths as great as 200 meters or 660 feet.”
It was also noted the “versatile interior can be quickly re-configured for a wide variety of premium activities including dining or cocktail dives, spa treatments, subsea gaming experiences and even weddings.”
Wanting to learn more, I found out Triton is headquartered in Sebastian, just north of where we live in the Palm Beaches. So Pam and I recently got a chance to tour their facility.
When people think about Sebastian — a town of just over 20,000 on Florida’s Treasure Coast, they conjure a sleepy enclave catering to tourism and retirement. But this city on the Indian and St. Sebastian Rivers — besides being home to folk singing legend Arlo Guthrie — also boasts the premier manufacturer of private submarines in the world: Triton.
Located in an industrial park, Triton has been building submarines and submersibles since 2007. Company President Patrick Lahey turned a lifelong passion for diving into a business whose marine vehicles have explored the ocean’s deepest depths, setting many world records along the way.
Today, Triton is rapidly expanding their clientele from owners of yachts to resorts and cruise ships, and according to Project Manager Ron Stamm, business is booming.
Stamm took us through the Triton assembly process, starting with a look at the submarine that started it all, the 1000/2 (for reference, the first number indicates the depth it is certified for — in this case, 1,000 feet — and the second, the number of passengers it accommodates). Now painted bright blue, it started life as yellow, but as Stamm said, “it’s been painted a few times.”
Both the company’s principals, Lahey and CEO L. Bruce Jones, were living in the Vero Beach area when they spun off Triton with the idea of serving the super yacht market. After years of building one or two subs, they now have five under construction, and 19 total deployed, said Stamm, who added, “We are growing quite quickly.”
In fact, the company now has a design team in an office outside London and a service facility in Barcelona, and altogether now has around 50 employees. “We pride ourselves on our after sales support,” said Stamm. “Once you purchase one of the subs from us, it’s kind of a long-term relationship.”
As an example, Stamm said it wasn’t unusual for an employee to show up for work and be told they are flying to Australia that day to deliver a part. They hand the part over and board the plane back.
As we toured the Triton plant, one of the most distinctive features of their vehicles is the large acrylic bubbles that house the occupants. Stamm told us the acrylics come from Germany and are designed to last 20 years.
Their most popular model is the 3300/3. Its acrylic sphere is about 6.5 inches thick, and is configured for two passengers in front with a pilot in back. The base price on this model is $3.8 million
While yacht owners buy these for their personal use, others are employed for scientific research, such as the submarine they built to explore the Mariana Trench, the deepest point of the ocean at over 36,000 feet below the surface. It’s made the three-and-a-half-hour trip to the bottom almost 20 times, and like all their submarines, has a 100 percent perfect safety record.
Above all, Stamm said safety is the number one priority. Every sub has multiple, redundant safety systems — 19 in all — which is paramount when dealing with outside pressures that can reach 16,000 pounds per square inch.
Service is built into the sale as well. Stamm said buyers get training for up to six pilots/technicians. It starts on the last month of the build, when the pilot is there to see the completion. It’s followed by classroom training, safety briefings and finally, sea trials and a chance to drive it, a six-to-eight-week process.
“One of the trends going forward is people are putting more film and science equipment on them,” said Stamm. “You can spend as much on the accessories as the sub.”
Recently, Triton made headlines by delivering a 24-passenger tourist sub to the Vinpearl Resort in Vietnam. Weighing 50 tons and two years in the building, the Deepview 24 has been hailed as a game-changer. Essentially an acrylic tube, it offers unparalleled viewing of ocean life. And due to its modular design, it can be configured for 12 to 66 people.
With the expedition cruise sector gaining in popularity, it follows that more cruise lines will want to offer guests the unique opportunity to find adventure under the seas. As a matter of fact, Stamm said they currently have a sub diving in Antarctica, where the acrylic keeps passengers warm without any extra heat required.
Stamm said when they get a sub ready to test, they invite all their employees to join in, “from management to the janitor,” so they can experience first hand what the experience is like.
The refractive properties of the acrylic merge with the water and it’s similar to “floating in air.” No wonder the employees we met are so enthusiastic about what they do.
RENDERINGS FROM TRITON:
The Triton 660/9 is being built for Scenic Cruises
The Deepview 24
Project Manager Ron Stamm
Gerry takes a look inside the Triton simulator
A look at their different models