The Community Submersibles Project is a 300-member strong collective of submersible enthusiasts in Berkeley, CA. Led by Shanee Stopnitzky, a marine scientist, and Alessandra Nölting, a self-taught maker and hardware enthusiast, and a crew of makers, mechanics, fabricators, and dreamers dedicated to making ocean exploration accessible. We are modernizing two submersibles, and teaching the public how to engage with them safely!
Diving in Noctiluca feels like gently going into space, but if space was full of life. Not just any life, but a wondrous, dazzling, glowing diversity of organisms that are each alien enough to impart the feeling of exploring distant and unknown worlds. The rarity of this experience and the weirdness of life in the deep are near impossible to describe with words. That visceral experience of profound wonder is what this project wants to give the world. Submarines have traditionally only been available to researchers and wealthy private owners, but we believe everyone should get to experience the awe of peering into the secret corners of our own planet.
Our overarching objectives are to expand and increase the cultural emphasis on curiosity, show people the thrill of exploration and discovery, and encourage people to seek out and value awe as a fundamental human experience. We use the submersibles to show what we can learn about life on earth, and also what audacious feats we are capable of when we are driven by deep curiosity.
We currently have two submersibles:
Fangtooth is a homemade, 11-foot electric sub that can dive to 30’ with up to 3 people. We are upgrading the pressure vessel to be capable of dives to 120 feet, and adding essential safety equipment for dives of up to 72 hours.
Noctiluca (formerly Marlin S-101) is a 32-foot diesel-electric sub with a storied history. It was built by the UK-based Marlin Submarines in 1989 and upgraded by amateurs over the years. In the ‘90s, the sub was owned by anti-whaling activist organization Sea Shepherd. The Community Submersibles Project purchased the sub from its last owner, U.S. Submarines co-founder Ellis Adams. Noctiluca can currently dive to 300’ for up to 72 hours. Both subs will be refit for deeper diving and newer onboard technology.
We have partnered with world-renowned submersible pilot, engineer and inventor Graham Hawkes to launch the world’s first public submersible pilot certification agency. Students will start with an online curriculum covering the theoretical aspects of submersible diving, and complete check-out dives with privately-owned submersibles in their area to earn their certifications. Modeled after aviation training, the courses emphasize developing automatic knowledge and skills using extensive simulations so that pilots are prepared for any eventuality. Submersible diving is currently the safest mode of transportation, and the Submersible Diving Academy’s primary objective is to continue to improve submersible safety statistics by getting as many people in the water diving as safely possible.
Get your tickets and come check us out at Maker Faire and see our Noctiluca sub in person!
See Graham’s Ted Talk, “A Flight Through the Ocean.”
Try a Sub on for Size. Everyone can be an Ocean Maker, Tinkerer, Pilot and Explorer