The Jiaolong (蛟龙), named after a mythical sea dragon, is China's first manned submersible designed to reach a depth of 7,000 meters below sea level. The Ministry of Science and Technology began researching and developing the project in 2002, with the intention of promoting China's deep sea exploration and operation technology.
Between May 31 and July 18, 2010, the Jiaolong completed 17 dives in the South China Sea, going down as far as 3,759 meters during its deepest dive. With that, China became the fifth country in the world to send a man 3,500 meters below sea level, following the United States, France, Russia and Japan.
Between July and August 2011, the Jiaolong conducted four dives in the Pacific Ocean, reaching a depth of 5,188 meters during its deepest dive.
On June 15, 2012, the Jiaolong successfully reached nearly 6,671 meters in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific, the deepest in China's manned deep-sea diving history. The dive was the first in a series of six across the area and aims at checking the vessel's functions and performance, following technical improvements made over the past year.
The Jiaolong canceled its second dive mission into the Mariana Trench, originally scheduled to take place on June 18, 2012, due to an overhaul of the hydraulic system. According to the on-scene headquarters, as the weather and sea conditions permit, the Jiaolong undertakes its second dive on June 19, reaching the depth of 6,965 meters below the sea.