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Aquarius was built in Victoria, Texas, in 1986 by Victoria Machine Works (VMW). Underwater operations first began in the United States Virgin Islands, in St. Croix’s Salt River Canyon (now a national park and previously home to Hydrolab, the predecessor to Aquarius), in 1988.

After 13 missions (and Hurricane Hugo), Aquarius was relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina in 1990 where it was refurbished over an 18-month period by the National Undersea Research Center at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Aquarius remained in Wilmington until 1993 until it was deployed at its present location in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Our timeline shows the development of Aquarius throughout the years and we explain how Aquarius continues the legacy of man-in-the-sea habitation.