1900s to the 2000s:
The U.S. Navy accepts the Holland, built
by John P. Holland of New Jersey, as its first submarine. While
submerged, this boat is powered by an electric motor and while
on the surface, by a gasoline engine. Holland is generally recognized
as the "father of the modern
English physiologist J.S. Haldane composes
a set of diving tables that establish
a stage method of decompression,
thereby providing a preventive solution for divers suffering the
A Japanese, Ohgushi,
develops a system that can operate as a scuba with an air supply
cylinder carried on the back.
The diver controls his air supply by triggering air flow into
his mask with his teeth.
Another scuba is developed by a Frenchman
named Yves Le Prieur.
In this set, the diver carries a compressed air bottle on his
chest and releases air into his face mask by opening a tap.
American biologist William
Beebe and partner Otis Barton, an engineer and geologist, descend
to a depth of 3,028 feet in their bathysphere,
a round craft made of thick steel with several windows that is
lowered by cable into the deep.
This depth record stands for 14 years.
Beebe later wrote that his undersea adventures exposed him to
"a world as strange as that of Mars."
Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan develop
the first scuba incorporating an automatic demand valve to release
air as the diver inhales. This
is the scuba we still know today, a breakthrough that allows divers
to stay underwater for extended periods and explore the ocean
Cousteau also lived in one of the first underwater
habitats -- a forerunner of the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Aquarius Underwater
Laboratory, one of our JASON
The United States launches the USS
Nautilus, the first nuclear powered submarine.
This vessel can stay underwater almost indefinitely. In 1960,
the nuclear sub Triton travels around the globe, staying submerged
all the way.
The first segment of Sea
Hunt airs on television, starring
Lloyd Bridges as Mike Hunt, an underwater adventurer. The series
inspires thousands of people to
take up scuba diving.
YMCA begins the first
nationally organized course for scuba certification.
As accident rates for scuba divers climb,
the first national training agencies
are formed to train and certify divers:
the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) is formed
in 1960, and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors
(PADI) in 1966.
Jacques Piccard, son of famous balloonist and
adventurer August Piccard, and Don Walsh
descend into the ocean to a depth of 35,797 feet -- that's almost seven
They make the trip in the Trieste,
a sturdy underwater vehicle the younger Piccard designed and built
several years earlier. The divers discover fish and other deep-sea
life at that tremendous depth.
Several experiments are conducted whereby
people live in underwater habitats,
leaving the habitat for exploration (using scuba equipment) and
returning for sleeping, eating and relaxing.
The habitats are supplied by compressed air from the surface.
In the first such experiment, Conshelf
(Continental Shelf) One, Jacques Cousteau and his team spend seven
days under 33 feet of water near Marseilles, France, in a habitat
they name Diogenes.
In 1963, eight divers live in Conshelf
Two under the Red Sea for a month. Other underwater habitats of
this period: Sealab I (1964); Sealab II (1965); and Conshelf Three
(1965), in which former astronaut Scott Carpenter and other divers
spend a month at 190 feet off the coast of southern France.
PADI, the Professional Association of
Diving Instructors, trains 3,226 divers in its first year of operation.
Pioneering marine scientist Sylvia Earle
applies to participate in the Tektite project,
a government-sponsored expedition off the Virgin Islands that
enables teams of scientists to live for weeks at a time in an
enclosed habitat on the ocean floor 50 feet below the surface.
She is not selected because, according
to Earle, the sponsors are uncomfortable having men and women
live together underwater. The result
is Tektite II, an all-female research expedition led by Dr. Earle
herself the next year.
Dr. Earle later becomes the first woman
to serve as chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA). In her
still-active career, she has logged more than 6,000 hours of diving,
has led more than 50 expeditions, and has authored more than 90
scientific, technical and popular publications.
Important advances relating to scuba
safety that began in the 1960s
become widely implemented in the 1970s, including: adoption of
certification cards to indicate a minimum level of training and
as a requirement for tank refills; rental of scuba equipment;
adoption of submersible pressure gauges; adoption of the buoyancy
compensator and single hose regulators as essential pieces of
Sylvia Earle walked unassisted on the
sea floor: at a record depth of 1,250 feet below the surface.
She wore a special pressured suit, and was carried by a vessel
down to the 1,250-foot depth off the island of Oahu.
At the bottom, she detached from the vessel
and explored the depths for two and a half hours with only a communication
line connecting her to the submersible, and nothing at all connecting
her to the world above. She describes this adventure in her book
Exploring the Deep Frontier.
Scientist, explorer and educator Dr.
Robert Ballard applies optical fiber technology that allows specially
equipped underwater craft to transmit video footage in real time
to a ship at the surface.
A record 2,250-foot dive is made in a Duke
Medical Center chamber. Stephen Porter, Len Whitlock and Erik
Kramer live in the eight-foot-diameter spherical chamber for 43
days, breathing a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen and helium.
Using unmanned submersibles, Dr.
Ballard and his team discover the remains of the famous luxury
liner R.M.S. Titanic, 12,460
feet below the surface of the North Atlantic off the coast of
Newfoundland. The next year they return to the site in a three
man submarine to continue exploring and photographing the wreck.
The Womens Scuba Association (WSA) is
founded in order to provide a networked association of women who
work in the diving industry
and a place where women divers can share their experiences and
concerns. Today, the WSA website (www.WomenInScuba.com) features
plenty of useful information, and profiles pioneering women underwater
researchers, filmmakers, actresses, shipwreck divers and instructors.
laboratory called the Aquarius begins operating off Key Largo,
Florida. Devoted to scientific
research, the Aquarius resembles an underwater apartment and lab
that can accommodate six-person teams during 10-day missions.
Scientists live, eat and sleep in the structure, and venture out
into the water for six to nine hours of "fieldwork"
each day. During its first deployment
in the Florida Keys from 1993-1996, the Aquarius helps revolutionize
the study of coral reefs.
The 50th anniversary of the invention of
modern scuba diving is celebrated around the world. PADI, the
largest of the national training agencies, certifies 515,000 new
The Aquarius is upgraded and is back at work
again in the Florida Keys, with missions already planned through the
year 2000. One of these missions involves working with the JASON
Project to bring interactive educational experiences about the undersea
world to teachers and students around the globe.
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