It’s not 007 – but this craft is on a mission to thrill

UNUSUAL The Mk1 Explorer
UNUSUAL The Mk1 Explorer
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IT LOOKS like something out of a James Bond movie.

But this unusual vessel isn’t the latest gadget out of Q’s secret workshop, it’s a half-submersible boat which lets people view the wonders of the sea.

UNUSUAL Inventor Chris Garner with the Mk1 Explorer, and below, the craft seen from the side.  Picture: Paul Jacobs (121201-1)

UNUSUAL Inventor Chris Garner with the Mk1 Explorer, and below, the craft seen from the side. Picture: Paul Jacobs (121201-1)

And the people behind the futuristic water craft are using a once-secret marine technology site in Gosport to test it.

After a close encounter with a large shark in 1986, inventor Chris Garner wanted to find a safe way for people to explore life beneath the waves.

Now after years of meticulous planning and research, the MSV Explorer is ready for trials.

Mr Garner, who is from Cornwall, and his team brought the craft to QinetiQ’s Haslar base yesterday to put it to the test.

He said: ‘Most people agree it looks like something out of a James Bond movie.

‘It’s unique and is the first in the world like it.

‘The starting point was me getting bumped by a large shark. I decided it wasn’t a safe place to be.

‘When I tried to buy something that would do the job I couldn’t find anything.

‘So I decided to learn all the science behind it and do it myself. It’s about letting people see the wonders of marine life.’

Although the craft was built for tourism, it could be put to other uses including naval security and film-making.

It has also been designed for disabled people to sit inside the cockpit to enjoy underwater experiences.

Big-name documentary makers will be coming to Gosport today to see the technology for themselves.

It comes with a catamaran which can lift the vessel out of the water.

The rig has also been specially designed to be able to rescue stranded dolphins.

The testing is the latest commercial venture to use QinetiQ’s Gosport base to try out new technology.

The giant ocean basin is normally used to test the hydrodynamics of the country’s warships and submarines.

But with defence spending on the decrease, QinetiQ has more freedom to allow commercial ventures into the site.

Phil Hardon, the indoor ocean basin’s facility manager, said: ‘We have a lot of companies asking whether they can use the facilities here now.

‘And we can lend them our expertise as well.

‘We save people a fortune on fairly silly mistakes. It also helps the local economy because we book up the hotels and things like that.’