In 2012, James Cameron made history when he became the third person to visit the Mariana Trench. After the trip, he donated his submarine, Deepsea Challenger, to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The institution was in the process of loaning the vehicle out when it caught fire while in transit.


The Deepsea Challenger was in the process of being loaned out to somewhere in Australia when it caught fire on I-95 in Connecticut. According to North Stonington Fire Marshal George Brennan, investigators believe that the truck’s brakes malfunctioned, catching the tires and submarine on fire.

While investigators believed that the submarine was a total loss, Cameron appears to be far more optimistic:

“We don’t know the full extent of the damage yet, but what I do know is that the sub is built tough, and the section that burned is mostly buoyancy, with no critical systems,” James Cameron said in a statement.

“The pilot sphere, the hydraulics, the thrusters, robotic arm and the other complex and expensive systems are safe,” said Cameron, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence known for directing such films as The Abyss, Avatar, and Titanic. “So, in my mind it’s a certainty that DEEPSEA CHALLENGER can dive again.”


The submarine has been returned to Woods Hole for the time being, and there’s no word on what’s next for the vehicle. Hopefully, the damage can be repaired and it can continue to explore the unknown regions of our oceans.

[4 NBC Washington via National Geographic]

Image credit: Sean D. Elliot / The Day via Associated Press