Ron Allum

Submarine designer

2013 NSW Senior Australian of the Year

Ron Allum is the designer of the world’s most innovative submarine, the Deepsea Challenger. This specialised underwater craft was the first to carry a solo submariner 11 kilometres to the floor of the Mariana Trench – the deepest point in the world’s oceans. Ron started on the Deepsea Challenger project in 2005, gradually assembling a team of engineers and technicians to build his submarine. He created a vessel of radical design that descends vertically with the pilot enclosed in a small metal sphere at the base of the vessel with the engines, lights and camera above in a chassis of hardened foam. When he couldn’t locate the required rock-hard flotation foam, he invented it himself using a breadmixer in his Sydney workshop. In March 2012, movie maker James Cameron who directed Titanic, climbed inside the Allum-designed submarine and descended to become the first human to tweet from the bottom of the world. Ron, in his own right a record breaker in cave diving deep beneath the Nullarbor, describes it as one of the most satisfying moments in his life.