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Images: Trailblazer in the Ocean

For its first 20 years, Alvin traveled on and was launched from a tender ship, Lulu, named after the mother of Allyn Vine, the WHOI scientist after whom the sub is named. The catamaran was built from two surplus Navy pontoons. (Photo, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Archives)

WHOI scientist Allyn Vine helped design the sub named after him. He sketched Alvin's many safety features, including a way to release the human-occupied sphere (which has never been necessary). (Drawing, Allyn Vine, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

In a 1968 mishap, Alvin sank 5,000 feet to the sea floor. Its occupants got out safely, but the sub was not recovered for ten months. (Photo taken from R/V Mizar, U.S. Navy)

A bologna sandwich, part of a lunch left in Alvin when it sank, was found sodden but edible. The discovery inspired new ways to study deep-sea microbes. (Photo, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Archives)

In the late 1970s, Alvin explored hydrothermal vents harboring unexpected deep-sea life: tubeworms, mussels, and other animals sustained by energy from chemicals from the seafloor, instead of sunlight. (Photo, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

In 1979, scientists discovered black smokers—chimneys gushing like seafloor geysers and spewing hot, chemical-laden black fluids. (Photo by Meg Tivey, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, scientists in Alvin assessed the impacts on deep-sea communities and vulnerable deep-living corals that were coated with oil. (Image courtesy of Chuck Fisher, Pennsylvania State University, and Tim Shank, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Deep-sea Time-lapse camera system provided by WHOI-MISO)