The “Auguste Piccard” submarine is now on display in Lucerne’s transport museum, fully restored for the first time. Once the largest submarine in the world, it was originally constructed for the 1964 Lausanne Expo.
In 1964, a ride on the “Auguste Piccard” was the hit of the Lausanne Expo. More than 33,000 passengers travelled to the depths of Lake Geneva, paying CHF40 ($42) to make the trip to 150 metres below the surface.
Deep-sea researcher Jacques Piccard designed the “Auguste Piccard” and named it after his father. The younger Piccard set a record by travelling 10,916 metres below sea level to the deepest point on Earth, while his father took a hot air balloon to a record height of 15,785 metres.
The “Auguste Piccard” submarine was eventually sold to Canada and used for offshore oil exploration. Later, it was badly damaged in a tornado in Texas, where it was being stored. In 1999, the submarine was transported back to Switzerland and kept near Lake Geneva until the transport museum restored it from its heavily rusted state.
The restoration took 28,000 hours and has been going on since 2005. Visitors can now tour the submarine at the transport museum and view an exhibit on the history of the Piccard family. The Swiss flag that travelled with Jacques Piccard to the lowest point on Earth is also on display.
Today, Jacques Piccard’s son Bertrand is behind the Solar Impulse project, which seeks to travel around the world in a solar-powered plane.
Scroll from left to right on the picture below to see the submarine before and after renovation (copyright: Photopress/Pius Koller).