Karl Stanley built his first submarine as a teenager, and is still going strong.


When I last spoke with Karl on the phone around January or February of 2003, he was living in an aircraft hangar in Idabel, Oklahoma, building another submarine.  Karl told me he’d returned from operating CBUG in Honduras, and spent about six months touring the United States looking for a place to set up shop.  Along the way he’d made contact with a famous subber (whose name escapes me at the moment, but at the risk of being called a “name dropper” I’ll include it here if and when I recall it in  the future) who took an interest in his project, and helped him acquire a brand new spare acrylic dome viewport he just happened to have laying around.   Karl will no doubt put it to good use, too: he’s set his sites on a new World Solo Depth Record.





This picture of Karl Stanley was published with his recent article in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE.  I think it says a lot about what sub building is all about: a lot of hard, dirty work.  Karl started building his first submarine, CBUG, in High School and finished it in College.  He’s no stranger to what torching, welding, and grinding inside a pressure hull is like.  Not glamorous, but worthwhile when it’s finally done.






Here we see two of the three spheres that will comprise the hull of his new submarine, IDABEL (named to honor the town in which it was built).  In the foreground is the main passenger sphere, which will seat two people and provide visibility through a large viewport and an even larger acrylic dome.  To the left is one of two combined spheres the pilot will stand in while operating the submarine.  The white cylindrical object between the spheres is a submersible electric motor.






Here we see the three major hull components assembled as the project begins to take shape.






This end-on view of the forward section of the sub shows how the two passengers will be seated in the observation sphere.  Karl will operate the sub while standing in the two aft spheres: the top one of which is ringed by multiple viewports for 360-degree visibility.






That’s Karl in the background, walking towards the completed IDABEL as she sits on her trailer.  This photo was taken at Broken Bow Lake, Oklahoma, when the submarine was undergoing initial proving tests.  At the time of this writing, I’m advised Karl is operating the submarine at THE HALF MOON BAY CABINS RESORT in Roatan, Honduras.


UPDATE November 4, 2003: Karl has advised me he’s successfully operating the IDABEL to depths of approximately 1500 feet so far (about twice the depth achieved by his first submarine, CBUG), and he’ll be providing us with pictures of the new sub in operation underwater as soon as he is able. 




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August 27, 2004.  Karl just sent me this picture of IDABEL on the job in Honduras.  To my knowledge, this is the first image on the internet of this remarkable submarine underwater.  Karl reports he has taken the boat down to 2020 feet so far; an amazing accomplishment, but all in a day’s work for Karl Stanley.  IDABEL carries a pilot and two passengers; OK, three if you count the pooch!  This is a “purpose built” submersible: designed specifically for the mission and locale it operates in.  Passengers have a great view of the seawall through the main viewport, and there’s a large viewport below that, too.  Contact Karl via his website for information on how you can dive this sub.






NEW!  April 29, 2006.  Karl sent us a new picture of IDABEL in operation at Roatan, Honduras.





Here’s Karl’s logo for the Roatan Instute of Deepsea Exploration, known by the acronym RIDE.






Karl snapped this picture of a shark eating a pig head at a depth of 1,800 FSW.


UPDATE Thursday, March 26, 2015:  Karl's newest picture of Idabel in the waters off Roatan.


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