World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Ben Franklin (PX-15)

Article Id: WHEBN0014471641
Reproduction Date:

Title: Ben Franklin (PX-15)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Robert Ballard, List of museum ships, Grumman, Jacques Piccard, Vancouver Maritime Museum, Ocean exploration, Frontiers of Science, Benjamin Franklin (disambiguation), James P. Delgado
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Ben Franklin (PX-15)

Name: Ben Franklin
Namesake: Benjamin Franklin
Builder: Grumman
Laid down: 1966
Launched: 1968
In service: 1969
Out of service: 1971
Status: Museum ship
General characteristics
Type: Submersible
Displacement: 130 long tons (132 t)
Length: 48 ft 9 in (14.86 m)
Beam: 21 ft 6 in (6.55 m)
Height: 20 ft (6.1 m)
Propulsion: 4 × electric motors, lead batteries
Test depth: Crush depth: 4,000 ft (1,200 m)
Crew: 6
Armament: None

The Ben Franklin mesoscaphe,[1] also known as the Grumman/Piccard PX-15, was a manned underwater submersible built in 1968. It was the brainchild of explorer and inventor Jacques Piccard. The research vessel was designed to house a six-man crew for up to 30 days of oceanographic study in the depths of the Gulf Stream. NASA became involved, seeing this as an opportunity to study the effects of long-term, continuous close confinement, a useful simulation of long space flights.

Design and operation

The Ben Franklin was built between 1966 and 1968 at the Giovanola fabrication plant in Monthey, Switzerland by Piccard and the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, then disassembled and shipped to Florida. The vessel is the first submarine to be built to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) standards. With a design crush depth of 4000 feet (1220 m), it was designed to drift along at neutral buoyancy at depths between 600 and 2000 feet (180–610 m). The 130-ton ship has four external electric propulsion pods, primarily used for altitude trimming. It is powered by tons of lead batteries stored outside the hull. Its length is 48 feet 9 inches (14.9 m), with a beam of 21 feet 6 inches (6.6 m) and a height of 20 feet (6.1 m). Piccard insisted on 29 observation portholes, despite the objections of engineers over the inclusion of potentially fatal weak points.

It began its voyage on July 14, 1969, off Palm Beach, Florida, with Piccard as the mission leader. Accompanied by surface support vessels, it resurfaced on August 14, 1,444 miles (2,324 km) away, 300 miles (480 km) south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The Ben Franklin made a few more dives after 1969, including the first deep-sea dive for Dr. Robert Ballard, the discoverer of the wreck of the Titanic.

After running aground on a reef in 1971, the Ben Franklin was sold to Vancouver businessman John Horton, only to languish for nearly three decades on the North Shore. In December 1999, with a sudden decision to either move or scrap the submersible, it was offered to the Vancouver Maritime Museum. After refurbishment the submersible was placed in front of the Museum.


Ambient artists Mathieu Ruhlmann and Celer collaboratively released an album called Mesoscaphe in 2008 dedicated to the voyage of the Ben Franklin.[2]

See also

  • SeaOrbiter A drifting oceanographic research laboratory also the brainchild of Jacques Piccard and due to be launched in 2013.


External links

  • The Ben Franklin - Grumman/Piccard PX-15 Website
  • From Sea to Shining Sea: A film treatment documenting the story of the Ben Franklin that was produced as a Discovery Channel Special
  • Ben Franklin: Captain's Log

Coordinates: 49°16′39.9″N 123°8′51.8″W / 49.277750°N 123.147722°W / 49.277750; -123.147722

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.