Kansas man, experts refurbishing a Cold-War era submarine

(AP Photo/Tamara Lush)

SALINA, Kan. (AP) – A Kansas man and a team of experts from around the country are teaming up to refurbish a Cold War-era submarine and put it back into the deep seas for exploration and filming.

Scott Waters, 29, of Salina, has a team of 10 experts who gather a few times a year north of Salina to tear apart and modernize a submarine that is one of the few in the world capable of diving 8,000 feet below the ocean’s surface.

Waters, the head of his family’s chain of hardware stores, bought the Pisces IV submarine for $30,000 in December and hauled it home from Wisconsin, where it had been in storage for 25 years, The Kansas City Star reported.

That came after Waters, who some call “the crazy submarine guy,” took five years to build a two-man submarine from scratch. He recently put the “Trustworthy,” which can go 350 feet deep, in Milford Lake. It worked but Waters said he only saw old tires, tree branches and a few catfish.

He’ll tear apart the Pisces IV, which had been used for research and oil exploration in the North Sea, put it back together with digital technology to the tune of $250,000 and offer it for scientific research and to the film industry.

His team includes engineers, scientists and master machinists. Waters believes the submarine will be ready to launch in two years, though it’ll be first be tested at the University of Pennsylvania. It will have room for a pilot and three passengers and will be powered by two 7-horsepower thrusters that can propel it at 3 knots.

Grace C. Young, the project’s science ambassador, earned an engineering degree at MIT and is doing thesis work on oceanic imagery at the University of Oxford in England.

She and the others are working with Waters because “we all believe in what Scott’s doing. I’m very interested in climate change, and the oceans are a big part of that. This is very important: This submarine and what he wants to do can change the world.”

John Smith, science director for the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, or HURL, was surprised to learn that Pisces VI was in Kansas. The group owns Pisces IV and V and once tried to acquire Pisces VI.

“The VI is actually the deepest-rated one and that’s why we were interested in it,” said Smith. “We didn’t know this guy had it. It’s a classic sub, but what he wants to do won’t be easy.”

When Waters gets the sub ocean-ready, it will have to be approved by the American Bureau of Shipping, which sets standards for maritime safety and operations.

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