Submersibles are a hit with superyacht owners

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Yacht owners already have lots of toys, ranging from jet skis to on-board helicopters, and now they’re finding submersibles to be an irresistible lure.

Leisure submersibles aren’t yet completely autonomous submarines with ocean-cruising capabilities, but with a typical dive-time capability of six to eight hours, they offer the privileged few a way to explore the deep — at least to about 500 feet. The price for such a vehicle starts at about $1 million, according to the New York Times.

Charles Kohnen, co-founder of Seamagine Hydrospace Corp., a private submarine builder based in Los Angeles, said the market is still in its infancy. Probably fewer than 12 private ships now carry submarines, he told the Times in an e-mail, although the number could double in the next five years.

“This is still an emerging market. To keep things into perspective, the first helicopters on private yachts were about 20 years ago and it was a big deal then. Now there are around 50 yachts with helicopters on,” Kohnen said.

“I expect the sales volume of submarines in the private sector will remain relatively small for quite some time. But once practical commercial usage is made of the latest technologies, then larger volumes could be seen.”

About 15 to 20 private submarines have been sold worldwide so far, according to industry professionals. Sean Dooley, president and founder of Nautilus Submarines & Diving Systems, which makes the Nautilus VAS submersible, says there are only five companies worldwide that have sold private submarines — Nautilus, Seamagine, U-Boat Worx, Triton Submarines, and DeepFlight.

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