Ross Davidson, 28th March 2012
Film director James Cameron may have visited the deepest point of the world’s oceans earlier this week but a firm in Caithness was exploring there long before the Oscar winner.
Cameron successfully completed the first solo journey to the bottom of the Mariana Trench but cameras built at Wick by offshore and marine service company Kongsberg Maritime captured images of the Pacific Ocean’s depths four years ago.
The director of Titanic and Avatar spent just over three hours at the bottom of the trench in the Deepsea Challenger submarine on Monday, reaching a depth of nearly seven miles.
Kongsberg’s manager at Wick, Bill Baxter, said: “Our job involves developing hi-tech underwater equipment which is deployed across the world in some of the most challenging of terrains.
“We supplied cameras four years ago to clients working in this exciting location in the western Pacific.”
Kongsberg, which employs 41 people at Wick, also said yesterday it had invested £100,000 in two machines, which would require two additional members of staff.
The new equipment, part-funded by a £21,000 grant from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), comprises a lathe and vertical machining centre.
Mr Baxter said: “We are so busy that we are investing at the factory to help us increase our production to meet demand.”
HIE area manager Roy Kirk said: “We are delighted to assist Kongsberg in further investing in their production processes at their exciting and dynamic facility.
“Kongsberg has a global reputation for excellence in the manufacture and design of highly specialist equipment, and we are proud of the work carried out in the Wick factory.”
Kongsberg Maritime, part of the Norway-based Kongsberg Group, also has a training centre at Westhill, in Aberdeenshire.
The group employs more than 150 people across its sites in Scotland and Waterlooville, Hampshire.