[UPDATED: Ocean Adventure On Hold; Shark Hunting Instead] Rich Man's Deep-Sea Submarine May Soon Call Newport Harbor Home

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Via VirginOceanic.com
The Virgin Oceanic ain't sea-ready yet.
​​UPDATED, JULY 22, 4:15 P.M.: The hope to take a submarine to the five deepest depths of the ocean floor is on hold while the submarine undergoes additional work, according to Newport Beach Patch. The voyage, which was officially announced in April, is co-funded by Chris Welsh, a Newport Beach resident, and millionaire adventurist, Richard Branson.

The Virgin Oceanic, as the submarine is named, was supposed to begin its trip aboard a 125-foot catamaran, named Cheyenne, in August, but the need to finish a quartz dome that can withstand excess pressure is delaying the departure date.

Up until recently, Cheyenne was parked in the middle of Newport Harbor and could be seen from Pacific Coast Highway, off the bridge that goes over the harbor. Right now an ugly brown barge is in the place of where the pearly white catamaran with the Google logo used to be.

According to NB Patch, Welsh has taken Cheyenne on a little jaunt down the coast to Baja California--where he's finding and tagging great white sharks.

Newport Harbor is home to many fine vessels.
ORIGINAL POST, FEB. 15, 1:38 P.M.: When the Weekly caught wind of a rumor that a deep-sea submarine was going to be parked in Newport Harbor, we couldn't help but imagine the possible stories to follow:

"Lido Island Junior Sailer Rams Sabot Into Submarine Periscope"; "Group of Seniors on a Sunday Afternoon Duffy Cruise Sent Flailing When Submarine Surfaces"; or "Welsh Pushes For City to Increase Security, Prevent Seals From Using Submarine as Sunning Deck."

Alas, if and when Chris Welsh gets the green light to bring his submarine into the harbor, it won't be sneaking up on anyone. As you'll see in the image after the jump, the submarine will be above water and on an apparatus that will be tough to miss.

How tough to miss? The deep-sea submarine would be parked on a 125-foot-long, 65-foot-wide catamaran, which would be anchored in the middle of the bay. 

Times Community News
Chris Welsh's submarine-holding behemoth.
Welsh's application to park the catamaran in the harbor was approved by harbor commissioners last week, according to the LA Times. The Newport Beach-based yacht racer and businessman has intentions of taking the submarine to the world's five deepest waters--including the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench, which is believed to be the deepest point in the Earth's crust--and discovering what exactly is going on down there through the use of his manned "flying" submarine. A 3-D IMAX movie could follow. And specimens to experiment on could be captured. And bragging rights would be had. But Welsh needs a financial backer to make the project, called the "Five Dives Expedition," a reality. 

Until a big-bucks backer joins the fray, Welsh's plans will remain on hold.

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