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Submarine inventor thinks deep

By Xu Lin in Wuhan  (China Daily)

08:15, May 09, 2012

Zhang Wuyi, a 37-year-old former boilermaker, waves to onlookers before taking his self-made submarine under water in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Tuesday. Provided to China Daily

Zhang Wuyi is making it easier to farm cucumbers - at the bottom of the sea.

Crawling out of a small silver submarine after a 20-minute dive, Zhang was ready to show off his new gizmo on Tuesday.

"It's like an automatically-controlled undersea harvesting machine, and absorbs aquatic products like a vacuum cleaner," said Zhang, 37, who hopes to put the craft into large-scale production.

The civilian sub is 6 meters long, 2 meters in circumference and can hold two people. The 9-ton craft can stay underwater for up to 20 hours. It is equipped with a camera, radar, positioning system and harvesting equipment.

Since his first dive last August, he has received several orders and numerous calls from home and abroad.

More than 20 people work in his boat company, located in a shabby bungalow in a suburban area, and they share a workshop with another factory.

He has already invested 4 million yuan ($635,000) and is building a 10,000-square-meter plant. About 500,000 yuan was out of his own pocket, while the rest came from friends and other investors.

It takes nearly two months to finish one submarine, catering to customers' different requirements.

In October, Cong Zhijie, who runs a sea cucumber farm in Dalian, Liaoning province, became Zhang's first and, so far, only buyer with a payment of 150,000 yuan.

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