Marinair Explorer Submarine
In a glimpse back to 1987, we find the remarkable story of Naval Policeman John Glennan, who turned his lifelong dream into reality by launching his one-man wet submarine. For years, he had been captivated by the daring underwater adventures of iconic screen divers like Lloyd Bridges and James Bond. Particularly, a much larger two-man wet submarine featured in the series “Barrier Reef” had captured his imagination, but the steep $45,000 price tag for the Italian-built craft remained out of reach for him and his friend.
Undeterred, John embarked on a remarkable journey to construct his very own underwater vessel. The original hull, a mere $50.00 aircraft fuel tank acquired from a backyard, formed the cornerstone of his creation. The various components, including helicopter rotor blades, brought the total cost to approximately $600.00. His mission was clear: to achieve the ambitious goal of crafting a successful submersible that would grant avid divers greater freedom and underwater manoeuvrability at an affordable price.
The end result, known as the Marinair Explorer, was a testament to John’s dedication and ingenuity. This fully realized underwater marvel, priced at just under $7,000, was constructed from durable fiberglass, measuring nearly 4 meters in length, and propelled by a 12-volt electric mercury thruster motor. A single joystick, reminiscent of aircraft controls, allowed the operator to navigate the Explorer effortlessly. With a cruising speed of three knots, it outpaced a diver’s swimming speed by a remarkable sixfold.
Anticipating a demand, Marinair foresaw an initial local market of up to 100 submarines, particularly in leisure resorts in Far North Queensland, while also exploring opportunities for international exports. Respected underwater explorer Ben Cropp expressed keen interest in utilising these innovative crafts for his television show, “The World Around Us.”
Today, the Mariner Explorer stands as a testament to human creativity and determination. While it has changed ownership to Mark Tozer and is now proudly on display at the Rodney Fox Shark Museum and Learning Centre, its legacy endures as a symbol of one man’s unwavering commitment to fulfilling a dream of exploring the depths of the ocean, all while making it accessible to others who share his passion for the underwater world.