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François-Alexandre Bertrand had an idea for a watercraft that would cruise to a site and then lower its passengers below the water to have an under water experience. First renders of the amphibious craft surfaced in 2011, and a working prototype was built by Platypus Craft in 2013. The watercraft, called the Platypus Blue Ocean has just sold its first unit, and bookings for the craft are officially open.
The Platypus Blue Ocean was initially designed and thought of as a two man craft. The idea was to cater to underwater explorers who had no previous diving experience by having them put on a face mask, and then submerge the middle section of the craft to a depth of up to 1.5 meters. Air would be supplied to the passenger and pilot, and a long air hose would offer exploration beyond the craft, if needed.
The original proposal was to fit out the Platypus with electric off-boards so that it could quietly navigate lagoons and coastal waters. The prototype however featured two Mercury engines due to the range limitations of electric motors.
Bertrand said in 2016, "We had two 4 kW Torqeedo motors and 12 kWh of batteries and we reached an average speed of 10 knots, which was really good, but the range on the lake was 30 miles. In the sea we could only go up to one hour and thirty minutes, which was too limited."
Needing to prove the craft was capable of more, traditional combustion engines were installed. The problem the builders faced however, was that the location of the intake tube for the hookah system (that allows underwater explorers to breathe) was too close to the hydraulic system, and this added a fuel taste to the air.
Everything else though, worked as planned. Bertrand and his team said, "On paper, the Platypus looks impressive, mold-breaking, innovative. In the flesh, even more so. But going out on what was effectively my first dive without needing any special equipment, no special training and little more than a few swimming certificates to my name was a real eye opener. No tanks on my back, wearing just a t-shirt and shorts and riding pillion beneath the waves on something akin to an underwater motorbike."
The company worked out a new design for the Platypus, one that would allow more passengers on board. The new Platypus was to be built out of aluminum, with a sleeker look, and rock a central pod that served as an extra hull when the craft was in boat mode.
This final version became a reality at the end of 2017 thanks to CDO Innov, and the company carried out tests at Noirmoutiers in the Bay of Biscay. A new paint job followed, and then a showcase at the Diving Expo at Paris. The company got into a deal with New Caledonia's Seascape, who insisted that the Platypus would stay in France until it was perfected.
The Platypus measures 7-metres long, and 2.5-metres wide. The watercraft features a 360-degree digital periscope (to keep an eye on happenings above the water while everyone is below), two hookah systems that support up to five occupants, and LED lights for after dark underwater adventures.
The Platypus Blue Ocean features two 50hp petrol outboards that generate a top surface speed of 18 knots. The vehicle can be customized to produce 80hp for 24 knots, or made fully electric with two 10kW motors and a 20kWh Li-ion battery pack which generate a top speed of 10 knots.
Underwater navigation speed is limited to 3 knots. Other optional extras include underwater cameras, a waterproof case with GPS, and an underwater communications system.
The batteries that power the hydraulic lifting arm and hookah system can handle up to 60 raising and lowering operations, and 4 hours of underwater air supply respectively.
Platypus Craft have added a few variants of the Platypus Blue Ocean to their catalog. Variants range from a basic Pro configuration priced at Euro 125,000 to an all-electric yacht model priced at Euro 575,000. Applications for the watercraft include shallow water research and exploration, marine tourism and recreational pursuits.
Bertrand has just returned from a successful delivery of the Platypus Blue Ocean to Seascape. This marks the completion of the first sale.
Thoughts About The Platypus Blue Ocean Watercraft
This amphibious vehicle seems like it was designed for Bond 25. We can picture some gorgeous looking American agent arriving on the coasts of Italy in one of these watercrafts. Having said that, this is a fantastic product for folk who spend a lot of time at sea, or for those who live at beach-front houses. We can totally imagine ourselves sipping margaritas all day long while sitting in the Platypus.