James Cameron reaches deepest spot on Earth

By The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) — Director James Cameron has made it to Earth’s deepest point.

The director of “Titanic” and other films used a specially designed submarine called “Deepsea Challenger” to dive nearly seven miles. He completed his deep dive a little before 8 a.m. Monday local time, according to Stephanie Montgomery of the National Geographic Society.

“All systems OK,” were Cameron’s first words, according to a statement. He arrived at a depth of 35,756 feet early Sunday evening on the U.S. East Coast.

He plans to spend about six hours exploring and filming the Mariana Trench, about 200 miles southwest of the Pacific island of Guam.

The scale of the trench is hard to grasp — it’s 120 times larger than the Grand Canyon and more than a mile deeper than Mount Everest is tall.

The first and only time anyone dove to these depths was in 1960. Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Capt. Don Walsh took nearly five hours to reach the bottom and stayed just 20 minutes. They didn’t have much to report on what they saw there, however, because their submarine kicked up so much sand from the ocean floor they couldn’t see much.

One of the risks of a dive so deep is extreme water pressure. At 6.8 miles below the surface, the pressure is the equivalent of three SUVs sitting on your toe.

Cameron told The Associated Press in an interview after a 5.1 mile-deep practice run near Papua New Guinea earlier this month that the pressure “is in the back of your mind.” The submarine would implode in an instant if it leaked, he said.

But while he was a little apprehensive beforehand, he wasn’t scared or nervous while underwater.

“When you are actually on the dive you have to trust the engineering was done right,” he said.

The film director has been an oceanography enthusiast since childhood and has made 72 deep-sea submersible dives. Thirty-three of those dives have been to the wreckage of the Titanic, the subject of his 1997 hit film.