" The Divers And The Monitors, Life Under Water ", Morris Island 1863

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JPK Huson 1863

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diving suit 1870.jpg

Great illustration depicting a diver having the best day ever, in 1870. War's naval ghost yard attracted salvage companies, divers sent to discover wrecks. Had no clue these suits were around in 1870, much less used during the war.

clean1.jpg



Again with apologies for a beginner poking around in the naval war, tripped over this. On the surface ( sorry... ), seems a little boring. Cleaning doesn't seem like a topic of interest. I know I find cleaning a big yawn as attested to by our healthy population of dust bunnies breeding under the guest room bed. Article describes a take on cleaning you could get your teeth into. Mindless slaughter of innocent dust bunnies has to wait.

Someone more conversant with ships would have to get into the topic of worms, barnacles and all other pests busy chewing holes in hulls. Out of sight beneath naval battles, these enemies could sink ships as effectively as any enemy. Well, they were an enemy. Hulls required cleaning regularly, always assumed it had to be done in dry dock?

What you love about poking around History's odd corners is finding someone back there who finds our odd corners fascinating, too. Correspondent wandered down to the docks, found himself in time for this. We've heard of Lowe's balloon testing new technology, reporter found Lowe's peers went the other direction.

clean2.jpg

Not crazy about the description of this guy but you could see where someone popping from the depths would freak out most of us, in 1863.

clean3.jpg

Cannot find ( yet ) an illustration of the diving suit he describes, apparatus for breathing may have been similar to this invention from England- 1860.

diving suit 1860.jpg

Hathi book on patents, 1860.

clean4.jpg

The sunken Weehawken!

Before the suit, the diving bell was employed as early as 1660, found an 1853 illustration on one being used, launched from a base on the Mississippi. Were diving bells considered obsolete by 1861 or if any were employed during the war?

diving 1660 bell.jpg

A 1660 invention- we've always stretched, haven't we? ' Where no man has gone before ', we manage it.

diving bell.jpg

NYPL, base for a diving bell looks like a house boat, I mean a house lifted from a foundation and dropped like Dorothy's onto the Mississippi. Wonderful across the board, isn't it?

Love to know more, this would be the place to go if anyone has anything.
 

USS ALASKA

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Had no clue these suits were around in 1870, much less used during the war.
Apparently the first underwater, air-pumped, diving helmet suit was trialed in the late 1820s and first used operationally in 1834 on the wreck of the HMS Royal George to salvage cannon.

Were diving bells considered obsolete by 1861 or if any were employed during the war?
Diving bells had been in use for quite a long time with Aristotle commenting on them. They are still used to this day though in a much safer configuration.
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AndyHall

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1920px-Le_Plongeur_plan.jpg


During this time period the French (especially) were doing remarkable things with undersea technology. They had a 150-foot-long submarine, Le Plongeur (above), that was very technologically advanced, that made boats like H. L. Hunley and Alligator look pretty doggone crude by comparison.

Denayrouze Reg V web.jpg


The same was true with diving suits. Denayrouze and Rouquayrol invented a diving suit in 1864 (above), that used a tank of compressed air and an early form of regulator, that allowed the diver to inhale air at the correct pressure for his depth.

Both of these inventions help inspire Verne's serialized novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea later in the decade. Verne is widely acknowledged now as the father of "hard" science fiction, specifically because he based so much in his works on existing or emergent technologies of his own day.
 
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Lubliner

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Reminds me of Landlocked Spaniards in the Floridian heat, or Mexico, trekking in suits of armor. To the point of cleaning hulls, It is possible to side dock a ship and let the tide go out. Hull ruffage turns a fast sailing/steamship into a creepy crawler. Cleaning underwater is a nasty business from what I have seen and been told. Good post, allowing a bit more 'depth' for discussion!
Lubliner.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Whoa, exactly what I'd been hoping, thank you! Suits are awesome but had to have been beyond cumbersome even under water! Plus, anything with that much weight has to have taken some stuffing to wear underwater- one thing going wrong and you'd be in trouble.

Love seeing what technology really was 150 years ago. We're a little smug in 2018, like our ancestors existed in world of animal skin boots, pounding rocks to make fire. Seem to have been pushing limits since Day 1. Makes you a little surprised no one thought up a vermin trap for that talking snake who cozied up to Adam and Eve.

So the suit in this 1897 patent had been around since 1864? Saved this years ago, when there was an awesome collection of patents on LoC. Sub still seems a lot less advanced than the French model of 40 years previously.

sub crop.jpg
 

USS ALASKA

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One of the developments from this emerging technology was the discovery of a new human ailment. Be it called Caisson Disease, the Bends, Divers' Disease, we now know it as Decompression Sickness.
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mofederal

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An interesting story, all of the early salvage effort. The Eads Bridge in St. Louis, was one of the early bridge building projects to run into decompression problems, caisson disease. It is an interesting story. It is hard to believe how well did at salvaging in those days. A tribute to the emerging technology and the men who used it.
 

EJ Zander

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Enjoyed reading about this. My Dad did hard hat salvage diving in the Navy. Said it was very dangerous and visibility was near zero alot of the times. One time he said he got stuck diving in water saturated spilled grain at the Norfolk docks. Said it was like mayonnaise.Had to be hoisted out with by his tether. Another time he was running a lift lines under a sunken barge. Barge was sunk in muck. Used a water jet like a hose pointed infront of him, couldnt see a thing/ pitch dark. Worked his way under the hull by bumping his hard hat on the metal hull to keep his bearings. As he moved forward the water jet opened up a pocket in the muck as he progressed forward the pocket would close behind him. Ran each line in this manner till he emerged from the muck out the other side.
 

Ole Miss

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My father also was a diver during his Naval career. He enlisted on December 15, 1941 when he turned 17. He served aboard the heavy cruiser Portland from February 1942---the Doolittle Raid and Midway---till she was torpedoed off Guadalcanal in November 1942. Later he was transferred to the USS Smith a destroyer and finished the War aboard her. He later transferred to submarine duty. Quite a career and lies in honor in Quantico National Cemetery.
Regards
David

There is a port of no return, where ships May ride at anchor or a little space And then, some starless night, the cable slips, Leaving an eddy at the mooring place... Gulls, veer no longer. Sailor, rest your oar. No tangled wreckage will be washed ashore.
Lost Harbor
by Leslie Nelson Jennings
 
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