Virgin's Branson adds winged sub to his fleet

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Here at TG Daily, we reckon he must have a Thunderbirds fantasy or something. Virgin's Richard Branson has added something new to his list of implausible vehicles - a DeepFlight three-person aero submarine.

The open cockpit winged sub - dubbed the Necker Nymph - is the first of its kind to hit the market and was designed and built by Graham Hawkes of Hawkes Ocean Technologies.

Branson's hiring it out to guests at his Necker Island resort for a piffling $25,000 a week.

Unlike conventional subs, which use ballast to sink in the water, Necker Nymph uses downward 'lift' on the wings to fly down to depth. It can dive to 40 meters for up to two hours.

It's hugely maneuverable - it can bank in 360 degree turns - and Virgin claims it can handle speeds and ranges way beyond any other sub that doesn't enclose the pilots. The Necker Nymph's open cockpits give a 360-degree view.

"Importantly, like all DeepFlight subs, Necker Nymph has near-zero environmental impact," says the company. "Its positive buoyancy prevents the sub from landing on a reef, and its low light and noise emissions ensure the fragile ocean ecosystems remain undisturbed."

Even this isn't enough for Branson, though. He's also planning a tougher version that could descend as far as 10,000 meters.