Private Preview 2007: Fathom Z

Submarines have existed since 1620, when the Dutch inventor Cornelius Van Drebbel wrapped a boat in greased leather and navigated the Thames 15 feet beneath the water’s surface. Like the original, which Van Drebbel maneuvered with a pair of oars, most subs that followed have been awkward affairs—especially the smaller, one- or two-person models. These battery-powered vessels typically have limited horizontal range and poor buoyancy, necessitating that they be towed to deep waters and then tethered to a ship when they are not diving. In addition, operating costs can reach tens of thousands of dollars per day, which further reduces submersibles’ appeal as pleasure craft.

Marion Hyper-Submersible Power Boat Design, based in Lake Butler, Fla., promises to address these drawbacks with its $3.5 million Fathom Z, which it plans to introduce early next year. Unlike preceding designs, this craft, the “hyper-submersible” to which the company name refers, will operate as both a submarine and a surface vessel, and it will not require support from another boat.


Created by CEO Reynolds Marion, the Fathom Z measures 33 feet long, 12¼ feet wide, and more than 6 feet tall, large enough to carry a pilot and three passengers. Powered by 880 hp diesel engines, the climate-controlled vessel will travel on the surface as fast as 45 mph for about 800 miles—a range sufficient to cruise from Miami to Haiti unassisted.

Beneath the surface, battery power will move the Fathom Z along at about 2 mph for as long as 45 minutes. The craft will be able to dive to depths of 200 feet and remain motionless underwater for several hours. To replenish the battery and air supply, you will need only to resurface, start the engines, and wait for a little less than an hour.

Marion says oil companies and research groups have expressed interest, but he also expects to hear from private individuals. “This,” he says, “is the toy we’ve all dreamed of.”

Marion Hyper-Submersible Power Boat Design



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