(Reuters) - Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, known for such exploits as trying to balloon around the world, said on Tuesday he planned to explore the deepest parts of the world's oceans with a jet-like submarine.
The 18-foot (5-1/2 meter) vessel is capable of descents of more than 36,000 feet (11,000 meters) below the surface, said Branson at a news conference in Newport Beach, California.
His project, called Virgin Oceanic, will undertake five dives over two years. The first is set for later this year, when the team plans to explore the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench at a depth near 36,000 feet.
Branson plans to pilot a second dive himself, into the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic Ocean.
Other areas to be explored are the Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean, South Sandwich Trench in the Southern Ocean and Diamantina in the Indian Ocean.