Branson branches out with submersible plane

Posted 2010-01-31 in Yacht

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Apparently, some places in the Caribbean seem unaffected by the last couple of week's worth of natural disasters. The people at Luxury Insider just notified me that it seems that Richard Branson isn't happy with just chartering out his Necker Belle (the 105ft catamaran we told you about on New Year's Eve). He's aiming for something new.

And it's surely something else. The Necker Nymph, also named in part after the Caribbean island Necker that Branson bought over thirty years ago, is what the British industrialist calls an underwater plane. The prototype was made by Graham Hawkes, head cheese over at Hawkes Ocean Technologies. Marketing manager Karen Hawkes decribes the vessel as "an entirely new class of vehicle for us - think of a sleek convertible under water. It is different from our other submersibles because it was specifically designed to dive to scuba depths in tropical waters. It has the flexibility to glide peacefully over glorious reefs or bank adventurously in 360 degree turns."

Addressing enviromental concerns, ms Hawkes stated that "its positive buoyancy prevents the sub from landing on a reef, and its low light and noise emissions ensure the fragile ocean ecosystems remain undisturbed". How's that for a soft-encounter?  The current version can supposedly go down to depths around 130ft (compare that to the claimed 328ft by another personal submarine that we featured last year, the CQ3 from U-boat Worx), but Branson is hoping to one day explore depths exceeding 35,000ft.

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The catch? Well, it's not exactly free. Branson reportedly spent £415,000 on the protoype (I thought it would be more to be frank), but in order to eligible to pay the £15,000 that Branson is demanding in weekly fees, you have to rent the aforementioned Necker Belle for atleast seven days - another £55,000. Oh and did I mention you have to actually get to Necker Island first? I'm not sure how the airport in Port-au-Prince is doing, but I'm sure you'll find flights to the British Virgin (yeah, I never thought of it, either. Guess I'm slow) Islands somewhere.

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Sir Richard expects a February 20 delivery.