The 122 metre Akademik Keldysh, largest research vessel in the world and mothership to the two extreme depth manned-submersibles, MIR 1 and MIR 2 is currently on station in the north Atlantic Ocean. She is stationed some 320 miles south of Ireland above the wreck of the WWII German Battleship 'Bismarck' which lies 15,500 feet (4670metres) below.
The Keldysh and her resident submersibles departed from Kiel, northern Germany on the 31st May and commenced diving operations on the 6th June. The two 3-man submersibles, both capable of reaching depths of 6 kilometers, reached the decks of the Bismarck shortly after noon today(7th June 2005). In Mir 1, Bob Williams (USA), Trevor Montgomery (Australia) and chief pilot Anatoly Sagalevitch departed the surface at 10.17am GMT with MIR 2 housing Thomas Ewert (USA), Gaylord Layton (USA) and pilot Genya Cherniaev reaching the ship approximately 30 minutes later.
The Bismarck lies upright and relatively intact after she was sunk by the Royal Navy in May 1941 just 8 days after beginning her operational life. She was hounded by British forces for 4 days after sinking the pride of the Royal Navy, HMS Hood after Winston Churchill, nervous about the ramifications to British morale issued firm orders to "sink the Bismarck, whatever the cost!"
The expedition is enjoying perfect conditions with calm seas and slight winds. Expedition Coordinator, Belinda Sawyer (New Zealand) says "the plan is to conduct two further MIR dives on the 8th June before we depart for Cobh, Ireland. We will then be commencing a series of expedition to the wreck of the Titanic off the coast of Newfoundland in mid-June".