Using a specially designed, 12-ton, lime-green sub named the Deepsea Challenger, Cameron dove nearly seven miles, and explored and filmed the Mariana Trench, in a location about 200 miles southwest of the Pacific island of Guam. The director returned to the surface of the Pacific Ocean on Monday morning local time, or Sunday evening on the U.S. East Coast.
Cameron spent a little more than three hours under water after reaching a depth of 35,756 feet before he began his ascent to the surface. He had planned to spend up to six hours on the sea floor.
Although condition in the submersible are hardly comfortable, apparently it was not Cameron, but the Deepsea Challenger itself that fell ill. A hydraulic leak forced the dive to be cut short, with Cameron saying "I lost hydraulics toward the latter part of dive, and I was unable to use the manipulator arm."
Cameron made the statement on Monday morning during a post-dive press conference held aboard the Octopus, which a yacht owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. A friend of Cameron's told the media after he came emerged from the dive that “Jim is going to be a little bit stiff and sore from the cramped position, but he’s in really good shape for his age, so I don’t expect any problems at all.”
The only others to ever reach the spot are Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh, a U.S. Navy captain. The pair spent about 20 minutes there during their 1960 dive, but at the time couldn't see very much after their submersible kicked up sand from the ocean floor.
Cameron has been a fan of oceanography since his childhood. He has made seventy-two deep-sea submersible dives. Thirty-three of those have been to the wreckage of the Titanic, the subject of his 1997 hit film, which is being released in a 3D version in April.
There is some raw video embedded below.