"I am homesick, basking in the bright moonlight, as two ships sail for the Mariana Trench. Innovating and exploring, we strive together, to roam the hadal trench 10,000 meters down."
This poem was written by Yang Shenshen, one of the chief engineers behind China's most advanced deep-sea manned submersible Fendouzhe, or Striver, during its sea trials in November 2020.
Born in August 1981, Yang has been involved in building all three of the country's record-setting manned submersibles, namely Jiaolong, Shenhai Yongshi and Fendouzhe. He was recently awarded the National May 1 Labor Medal, the top honor awarded to the most outstanding workers.
On Nov 10, 2020, Fendouzhe set a national record by diving to a depth of 10,909 meters in Challenger Deep, an 11,000-meter chasm located at the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean.
President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the team after they successfully completed sea trials for Fendouzhe.
Xi said Fendouzhe's success demonstrated that China is capable of conducting scientific exploration and research in the deepest parts of the ocean, and is a reflection of the country's prowess in cutting-edge maritime technology.
He called for scientists and engineers working on deep-sea equipment to continue to contribute to China's rise as a strong maritime nation, as well as to humanity's understanding of the oceans.
Yang was one of the commanders overseeing the trials. "The success was the result of a fighting spirit and of perseverance in overcoming difficulties," he said. "We are very proud to be at the global forefront in terms of manned submersible technology capable of diving to the 10,000-meter mark," he said.
The spirit of innovation and exploration helped propel Yang from an assistant engineer to one of China's leading mechatronics experts on manned submersibles in less than two decades.
He joined the Jiaolong research team in 2005. Growing up inland, Yang said he felt nervous when he first saw the ocean, and also about making it his career, but he did not let this faze him. Over the years, Yang and his team overcame many technical challenges, ranging from deep-sea lithium batteries to propulsion technology. Their efforts enabled China to master most of the core technologies used in its manned deep-sea submersibles.
Now, Yang said the team is aiming to create a new manned submersible using resin glass that will offer a 360-degree field of view under the sea, unlike traditional submersibles that only have a small viewing window.
"The ocean's depths may be limited, but our desire to explore them is limitless," he said.