The dive started at 7 a.m. Sunday local time (2100 GMT Saturday) in heavy rain and with the Rafale at 6 levels.
Three oceanauts, Ye Cong, Liu Kaizhou and Yang Bo, are conducting the dive with the support of nearly 100 scientists on board.
According to China Daily, Jiaolong reached a depth of 7015 metres:
The Jiaolong, China‘s manned submersible named after a mythical sea dragon, succeeded in diving 7,015 meters below sea level at around 11 am local time during its fourth dive into the Mariana Trench.
The oceanauts had succeeded in reaching the depths of 6,671, 6,965 and 6,963 meters in their previous three dives from June 15 t0 22, well surpassing the record of 5,188 meters last July.
“It has been proved during the four times of dive that the submersible is stable in function and the capabilities of the team performing the test dives are rising gradually.” said on-scene commander Liu Feng.
Although China’s deepest dive broke the nation’s record, other vessels have gone much deeper into the trench. AFP adds:
The same submersible reached 5,188 metres in a Pacific dive in July last year. And in a series of three previous dives since June 15, the craft has gone deeper still. Experts say 7,000 metres is the limit of its design.
Other manned submersibles have gone deeper than China’s craft. Earlier this year, American film director James Cameron descended almost 11,000 metres to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
His effort is believed to have at least equalled the record for the deepest manned dive, set by a US Navy officer and a Swiss oceanographer in 1960, according to Guinness World Records.
China intends to use the submersible for scientific research, such as collecting samples of undersea life and studying geological structures, as well as future development of mineral resources, experts say.
While one of the three dives was originally scheduled on a different day, the date of the dive was changed to the same day as China’s space docking. Bloomberg adds:
A Chinese submarine descended to 6,908 meters (22,600 feet) in the Mariana Trench today, breaking the record for the nation’s deepest dive a day after astronauts performed China’s first manned space docking.
An earlier dive attempt was aborted because of a communications problem. A leaking hydraulic pipe was also fixed, Xinhua said.
The dive occurred less than 24 hours after three Chinese astronauts, including China’s first woman in space, docked their spacecraft with an orbiting Tiangong space module. The docking was broadcast live on state television.
Read more about China’s Submarine, Jiaolong, via CDT.