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Rules of Thumb



Dry Ambient Submarine

DryDive a 3-Man Dry Ambient,
or 1-Man and 3 kids.

DryDive is a 3 man, diesel electric, dry ambient submarine designed and built by Brent Shaw of New Zealand. She is the product of a talented builder and over 6 years and 8000 hours of designing and building as well as a successful bout with cancer.

She is 3.6m (12 ft) long and weighs 2.1 tons.  Because she is ambient her depth is limited by the same restrictions as a scuba diver; so about 35m (115 ft).  Normal operating depth is 10m (33 ft) were she is only limited by her air supply which will last about 100 minutes.  Submerged; DryDive is powered up to 3 mph by two 70 lb thrust trolling motors. The surface speed is up to 8 mph when running the 10 hp diesel engine.  A snorkel extends above the waves and it has with a ball float valve that automatically closes when submerging. There is a video camera mounted to the snorkel with the monitor on the console, so is also acts as a forward looking periscope.

Brent is now working on a improved version of DryDive, and he will build one for you for about the same price as a Bass Boat.

You can email Brent at


Surface propulsion: 10 hp diesel with 2 gallon fuel tank.
Surface speed with diesel engine: 8 mph
Submerged speed with 2, 24 volt, 70 lb thrust Minn Kota trolling motors: 3 mph
Battery: Main 24 volt bank is 4, 6 volt 230 amp batteries.  Two 12v for backup and one for starting the diesel. All are lead acid.
Freeboard, or height between water and the hatch opening: 450mm (1.5 ft)
Air supply: 50 cubic feet per hour per passenger provided by 5 scuba tanks giving 100 minutes of safe operation time.
Payload is 240kg (530 pounds).  Lead weights are added or removed to adjust for occupants weight. No drop weight.

Below are photos of the construction process.



Baffles in the ballast tanks

Hull taking shape.


Engine Compartment

Air tanks.

Vertical thruster on the front.

The vertical thruster controls

Viewport marked for cutting.

Assembled hull.

Electric motors and diesel with
drive shaft and prop installed.

Engine compartment top
installed.  The engine is accessed
from the inside.

Stick helm and hydraulic piston.


Scuba tank mounts and engine
access hatch.  Air intake snorkel
and secondary shutoff valve in
the top of the photo.

Exhaust shutoff valve beside belt
pulley for the engine prop drive

Quick acting hatch.


Exhaust, Prop, and Rudder


On the trailer and ready to go.

One sweet submarine.

Naturally buoyant and ready.

And going, going...