MBL News – Paul Allen research ship PETREL at Malta – 20.03.2017

On Monday 20th March 2017 around 0814 hrs the 76.45 metre research vessel PETREL owned by the estate of the Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen entered Valletta, Malta.

The ship is named after the sea bird petrel. In 2016, Allen purchased the offshore vessel formerly named SEVEN PETREL from Subsea 7, a subsea engineering, construction and services company. In 2017, the ship completed an extensive retrofitting to become a deep submergence research vessel. In fact she is the only privately owned vessel in the world equipped to explore 6,000 m (19,685 ft) depths. She also serves as a testing bed for new deep sea equipment that has never been deployed on any other ship.

The primary mission of the ship, which is fully funded by Allen’s estate, is to explore historically significant wrecks at challenging depths and conditions. A precondition set by Allen is for discovered wrecks to be respected as war graves and their locations kept secret but known to only national governments and museums. During the nationally televised PBS documentary USS INDIANAPOLIS LIVE FROM THE DEEP, Allen said, “We’ve done a number of these explorations to try to find sunken warships. We try to do these both as really exciting examples of underwater archaeology and as tributes to the brave men that went down on these ships.” Sometimes while PETREL is docked we conduct walking tours and serves as an educational platform for students and children. 

One of the most elusive shipwrecks in history, USS INDIANAPOLIS  was finally located on 19 August 2017 at a depth of 5,500 m (18,000 ft) in the Philippine Sea. The discovery became headline news around the world and introduced PETREL as Paul Allen’s newest addition to his expedition fleet. Robert Kraft, who serves as Subsea Director for Allen said – “We did 18 search grids, each one is about a 120 square kilometers and that took us the course of a couple of months. It was about 26 days of searching.”

The USS INDIANAPOLIS CA 35 wreck is upright with her hull and armaments intact and well preserved in the depth. Oxidised wrought iron were found by the crew emerging from one of the main guns of the ship.

While mobilising at Valletta she was berthed at Valletta Cruise Port Pinto 1 Wharf starboard side alongside.

Handling Agents were Mifsud Brothers Ltd – www.mbl.com.mt

Photos by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com

Published – Monday 6th April, 2020