A Sea Orbiter was a mobile laboratory that was semi-submerged to observe wildlife. It was like a semi-submerged yacht, only it was built for science.
(Note: The background section of this page of this page uses most of the same words as Terra Futura's page on semi-submerged yachts to save time.)
Semi-submerged vessels were nothing new. The USS Monitor fought in the Battle of Hampton Roads. It later fought in the Battle of Drewry's Bluff before it sunk at the end of 1862. The wreck was rediscovered in 1973. By then, semi-submerged vessels were carrying oil rigs to where they were needed. Semi-submerged vessels in purely utilitarian roles. The semi-submerged yachts changed that forever. The first semi-submerged yacht was Trilobis 65. Trilobis 65 was 20 meters long, 13 meters wide, and looked like a teardrop. The yacht held six people at sea for a maximum speed of 7 knots. It was powered by fuel cells, solar panels, and diesel engines. The ship had a 360 degree view with its submerged observation bay. The hull was made of carbon fiber composites. The ship was expensive and so was the frequent maintenance. A special drydock was built for Trilobis 65. The design was a success. It led to the sea orbiter.
Tech Level: 10
The designer of the first sea orbiter was Jacques Rougerie of France.The first sea orbiter was 52 meters high and 15 meters wide. It drifted along the currents. The airplane wing-like shape was there for maneuverability. Electric thrusters were there to kep the sea orbiter was crashing. 2/3 of the sea orbiter was underwater for seeing ecosystems to study them. The top third was a monitoring station to get where the sea orbiter was going. A fish-collection system was there for ecosystem studies. Like the International Space Station, the sea orbiter was made of separate modules. The cost was $30 million. The sea orbiter was built for a 16-person crew. Greater understanding of the sea was gained through the use of the sea orbiter.