History of Deep Sea Diving
Deep sea diving has been around for hundreds of years, yet its only in recent years that the technology for divers to be able to breath for extended periods has been improved to the point that man can freely explore the ocean.
Early Diving History
The Greeks were the first people on record to be known to have practised deep diving. They would use the simple crude methods of a rope for guidance and positioning, and a stone weight to help with the submergence. Mostly for the attempt to find sunken treasure, these naked athletes would risk their life to search & retrieve the commodities. They had to be well built, athletic, and excellent swimmers, or they would not survive, and many didn't. Greek laws and Records show that as early as the 3rd century BC this was happening, and would be used in aid to the Trojan wars.
The first type of equipment used for diving was the diving bell. Developed in the 16h and 17th century as the first mechanically aided machine to use for underwater diving. Although the idea had been found to be proposed by as far back as the 4th century BC by Aristotle. The method was often proposed to be a means to carry out sunken treasure explorations, but was seldom successful, only barely aiding in the searches.
It wasn't until 1789 that the engineer John Smeaton carried out Denis Papin’s idea of placing a force pump and bellows inside the bell, which saw the further progress of deep sea diving.
Early Diving Equipment Breakthroughs
This was first described in 1405, by Konrad Kyeser, by which the method was to wear a leather jacket, and a metal helmet with two glass windows. It was to be so bold as to say that the jacket would be lined with sponge to retain the air, and a leather pipe would be connected to a bag of air. Similar to the model we have today. In 1797 there was a London based diving company called Klingert what designed a full diving dress, and were able to present it to the King of Sweden, and demonstrate it successfully.
The first real successful diving helmets were produced by two brothers, Charles and John Deane. They peioneed their new invention in the 1820’s after creating a helmet to allow fire fighters the ability to walk & breath in black smoke, they also engineered it to be for use in underwater explorations, as long as the wearer remained vertical.
Diving Suit Equipment
Inventors as early as the 17th cent. sought means whereby divers could stay underwater for extended periods. At that time, various types of diving dress and underwater armor attempted to supply fresh air through a surface pipe kept above the water by a float.
The challenge for inventors in the 17th century was to develop a way to allow divers to stay underwater for longer periods of time. There was a few crude attempts with the divers air being supplied thought a pipe to the surface.
It was Augustus Siebe that made the breakthrough in the early 19th century. He combined a waterproof jacket, along with a helmet which used the pipe to the surface method, but allowed the divers air to escape through open vents at the bottom of the jacket. The air pressure meant the water level would be below the divers head. This was dangerous though, if the diver changed from a vertical angle, as all the air would rush out, and the water rush in, drowning the diver. He improved upon this by implementing closed vent improvements, which would allow the air out, and stop the water coming in, no matter what angle the diver was located at.
There was obvious limitations with having to be attached to the surface with a breathing pipe, and it wasn't until the 20th century that scuba gear with compressed air breathing equipment was designed and tested, and shown to be a safe alternative. The inventors Jacques Yves Cousteau and Emil Gagnan completed their successful tests in 1943, and this is still used today.
Further deep sea diving in submarines has gained popularity, as we recently reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench. It’s unlikely we will ever want to go down in a diving suit, but there will definitely be a market for commercial activities, and to see the weird and wonderful wildlife that swims about deep under the oceans darkness.