History of Diving, Part 8

In part 8 we take us from year 1956 – 1966.

(A good source in creating this chronology has been SPUMS Journal Volume 29 No.2 June 1999. Spums Archive

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1956 Kaj Undén

The helmet seen in the picture was manufactured in 1956 as a prototype for a mixed-gas helmet. The helmet designer was Kaj Undén, who worked for the Karolinska Institute in the 1950s. The helmet is now at the Marin Museum in Karlskrona 100 .

1956. Bengt Börjesson

Bengt Börjesson was a member of the Göteborgs AmatörDykklubb. but a schism within the club caused him and Dennis Österlund to jump off and form the West Coast Diving Club. The new club members were early in diving trips to the Mediterranean and Börjesson became interested in photographing and filming under the surface. His first underwater film in colour, ”Depths of the Mediterranean” came in 1954.

However, the group was somewhat disappointed with the Mediterranean wildlife and in time wanted to move to other places. The idea of a trip to the Red Sea began to grow. The ideas were realized in 1956 when a boat, from Gothenburg, embarked on the ”Expedition Red Sea”, which also became the name of Börjesson’s film about the adventure.

When the group returned to Sweden, however, the film companies were uninterested in buying the rights. Cousteau’s underwater film ”The Silent World” had just been released and although it received much good reception, the film industry did not believe in a new film in the same genre at the time. Börjesson then rented a movie studio and produced the film himself. When the film was released it became a success and increased interest in sport diving in Sweden.

1956. Åke Follin

Swedish technician and diving pioneer. Get in touch early with the West Coast Diving Club and since he has already designed his own diving equipment, he also had to build many of the members’ equipment. In 1956, Follin was one of the members of the club’s ”Expedition Red Sea”, all except the photographer Bengt Börjesson dived with equipment made by Follin. Börjesson preferred an oxygen rebreather as it did not give any air bubbles that could interfere with the filming 95 .

1956 Dennis Österlund

Dennis Österlund was a Swedish scuba pioneer. Formed together with Bengt Börjesson Västkustens Dykarklubb, one of Sweden’s first sport diving clubs. He was one of the initiators of ”Expedition Röda Havet” and started Sweden’s first scuba diving school on Stora Skeppsholmen in Lysekil in 1958 (Lysekil has since been something of a hub in Swedish scuba diving). Later he was involved in starting up Aqua-Sport, now Poseidon103.

1958 Svenska SportDykarFörbundet, SSDF

The Swedish Sport Diving Association was formed in 1958. Ulf Holm was elected the first chairman. Today, the association is divided into five different committees, the Finswimim Committee, the Free Diving Committee, the Technical Committee, the UV Photo Committee, and the Uw- Rugby Committee. For a long time, SSDF was the only nationwide organization that conducted scuba diving training in Sweden. SSDF is connected to CMAS 104 .

1960 Trieste

The Swiss Auguste Piccard invented this deep-sea craft in 1938. It was completed in 1953 and sold to the US Navy in 1958. In 1960, Piccard’s son Jacques Piccard and the American Don Walsh dive to the bottom of the world’s largest deep Marian tomb (10,910 meters) with the craft. Trieste is now on display at the National Museum of the United States Navy, Washington105, 106. (Ed. Note. At these depths, it is not possible to use air in the floating tanks, but the floating body was filled with jet fuel that has a lower density than water and is less compressible than gases. To get back to the surface, a ballast consisting of iron bullets was released. )

1960 Ingvar Elfström

Ingvar Elfström was a pioneer in Swedish scuba diving. In 1954, he designed his first dive regulator at home in the kitchen. The same year he started the diving club Poseidon. In 1958, together with a handful of engineers and diving instructors, he founded the company Aqua-sport, later renamed to Poseidon 107 .

After a few years, he started developing his regulators with the help of Rolf Tistrand, who has been with the company since 1957. Their next regulator was Cyklon Junior, the first ever-manufactured single-hose regulator designed for diving. Today, the further development is known as Cyklon 300 and Cyklon 5000. With the help of his friend Dennis Österlund, sales began to improve. Products were sold under the Poseidon brand and marketed by the company Aqua-Sport (the company changed its name to Poseidon after Elfström and Österlund were in the US and tried to sell their diving equipment to the US Navy. When they presented the company as Aqua-Sport, the answer came from the US Navy , ”we are not interested in sports equipment”). The equipment that Poseidon could not produce itself was imported from foreign manufacturers

The company continued to grow, which is why Ingvar and Dennis moved the production of regulators from the sink to a small rented garage. The first store was opened in Gothenburg in 1958, shortly afterwards followed by Stockholm and Malmö. The availability of a neoprene diving suit in the fifties was a big problem because everyone thought the material would allow water to seep through. At Poseidon, it was found that it was not the material itself but the seams that let the water through. In the 1960s, Poseidon received a request from the Swedish Navy if it would be possible to produce a suit that could be used for longer exposure times in the cold northern waters. After some research and experiments with different materials and manufacturing techniques, they produced a dry suit that met the navy’s requirements.

The first neoprene drysuit with gas-tight zipper, Unisuit, was delivered to the Swedish Navy in 1968. The suit had a connection for supplying air from the diving apparatus, as well as seals consisting of folded cuffs at the wrists and neck. In the same year, Poseidon began exporting products. Ingvar’s big dream came true in 1984 when a factory that was completely adapted for the manufacture of diving equipment was built108.

Poseidon fortsatte att utveckla sina produkter för kommersiell-, militär- och sportdykning. I och med att intresset för blandgasdykning ökade bland sportdykare började man även titta på utrustning för denna typ av dykning. 2009 lanserade man MKVI. Senare följdes detta upp med ett dyksystem avsett för trimixdykning109.

Poseidon continued to develop its products for commercial, military and scuba diving. As the interest in mixed gas diving increased among scuba divers, they also started looking at equipment for this type of diving. In 2009, MKVI was launched. This was later followed by a diving system intended for trimix diving109.

1960s Håkan Lans

Håkan Lans, a Swedish inventor. He was not a prodigy at school. His grades were not at the top level. However, he had a great interest, technology. His friends of the same age were few. His best friend in his early teens was the director of the Technical Museum, Torsten Alth, a member of the Academy of Engineering and a doctor of technical history. Lans spent many hours with him. He built a simple videophone and a radio transmitter with which he sent Morse code messages. The Morse code itself he learned in one day. Although Lans was not a good schoolboy, there was one subject he was easy on, physics. As a thirteen-year-old, he studied student physics in a few days and received a big A in grades. After that, it turned around and during his continued schooling, he had a big A in pretty much all subjects. The space race between the United States and the Soviet Union started and rockets became, of course, something that interested the young Lans. He began experimenting with building his own rocket engines. It was exploding around Lans, as a peer later described it, and explode it did. Once he accidentally blew out the whole kitchen of a friend’s family. He himself managed relatively well as he had a self-constructed face shield, but not a hair was left on his head.

The submarine was then sold to Stockholm University, which used it in marine biological research at the Askö Laboratory. After a research project at Tjärnö in Bohuslän, Doppingen ended up at Chalmers
where it was named Doppingen II after some X jobs that meant better electric motor and external battery pods before it ended up in storage and later donated to SDHF. Today you can view Doppingen II at Dyktankhuset on Djurgården, Stockholm

Lans did his military service at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, where he was involved in developing Sweden’s first computer. Lans later continued to develop several computer products, such as color graphics for computers. Håhan Lan’s most important invention is STMDA, which today is standard in both shipping and aviation. Thanks to the system, each ship and aircraft knows not only its own but also the exact position of nearby aircraft and ships. The system is completely self-governing110.

1961 The salvage of the Regala ship Vasa

The royal ship Vasa sank on its maiden voyage in 1628. She was 69 meters long, 11.7 meters wide and 4.8 meters deep. Her displacement was 1210 tons. She had 3 masts and ten sails. Vasa was equipped with 48 × 24 pound cannons, 8 × 3 pound cannons, 2 × 1 pound cannons, 6 storm pieces. The crew consisted of 145 sailors and 300 soldiers.

The Swedish marine engineer and amateur researcher Anders Franzen found the wreck of the royal ship Vasa. He had for a long time conducted archival research for Swedish warships and finally compiled a list of 12 ships that he thought seemed the most interesting. From 1954 he concentrated on the port area of Vasa and Stockholm. Franzen could often be seen, sitting outside in his snipe and sometimes letting his hand-made plug plunger go deep. On August 25, 1956, he get a hit outside Beckholmsdockan. Vasa was found111.

The discovery of Vasa did not immediately bring any joy. No one wanted to invest their funds to pick up an old wreck. Franzen, however, lobbied diligently and managed to get a group together that would take care of it all. In 1956, preparations began for the salvage. The diver Per Edvin Fälting was appointed dive leader. The preparations included taking up loose parts around the wreck, which stood at a depth of 32 meters. In 1957, preparations began for the lift itself. Six tunnels were dug/flushed under Vasa – the idea was that heavy steel cables would be pulled through them so that the ship could then be lifted with the help of floating pontoons. In 1959, it was time for the first lift. However, she was only lifted so that she left the bottom, after which Vasa was moved in ten stages to a depth of 17 meters. Here the divers began to seal cannon hatches, replace thousands of rusted iron bolts with wooden plugs or new bolts, remove as much clay and mud as possible and so on. This work lasted for a year and a half. On the morning of April 24, 1961, Vaasa was finally lifted to the surface after 333 years at the bottom.


– 1961 Vasa is placed in a temporary museum

– In 1962, spraying of the wreck with preservatives begins.

– 1967 is the last dive in the project. An 11 meter long large boat and two bow anchors are taken up.

– 1979 spraying with preservatives ends

– 1988 Vasa is moved to the newly built Vasa Museum

– 1990 Vasa Museum inaugurates. A 44-year salvage project can be considered completed.

Anders Franzen never received any financial compensation for the work he put in, this despite the fact that he gave Stockholm one of its biggest tourist attractions, but he;

– got a special position in technology history at the Royal Institute of Technology, KTH, where he was promoted to honorary doctor of technology in 1983.

– In 1988 he was awarded the KTH; s Grand Prize.

– In 1992, he was awarded the title of professor.

– In 2007, after the Vasa Museum had more than a million visitors during the year, Stockholm City Council announced that Anders Franzen would have a park named after him.

Anders Franzen had a small boathouse by the fishing harbor on Dalarö. The shed is from 1865 and was bought by Franzen in 1950. Here he conducted much of his wreck studies and kept some of his equipment. The shed is now a museum and law-protected building monument 112 .

1962 – 1978 Underwater Habitat

Underwater habitats, ie underwater dwellings and / or workplaces, became relatively popular during this period, at least if we look at their limited use. A total of 65 habitats were built during this period, of which 41 in Europe, which can be compared, for example, with ”Jim” which had a practical area of use and of which 19 were built. The habitats can be divided into two groups, those with atmospheric pressure and those with elevated pressure. Most habitats were built for research purposes. Below are some of the most famous habitats.

– Conshelf I, II, III

The first to build was Jacques Costeau. The first underwater habitat, Conshelf I, was built in 1962 and launched off Marseille. In the habitat lived two diving teams at a depth of 10 meters for a week.

In Conshelf II, launched in 1963 in the Red Sea, ten people lived, ten meters below sea level, for 30 days.

In Conshelf III, which was launched at a depth of 100 meters outside Marseille, 6 people lived at a depth of 100 meters for 3 weeks. Conshelf I, II and II meant a major scientific breakthrough as it proved man’s ability to live longer underwater at a much higher pressure than at sea level.


SEALAB was developed by the US Navy to conduct saturation diving experiments. The three different habitats were gradually lowered to increased depths. The experiments were completed when SEALAB III reached a depth of 185 meters.

– Tektite I and II

The habitats were designed and built by General Electric. The underwater habitats were used by NASA to study how humans managed to live in extremely isolated conditions.

– Hydrolab

The Hydrolab research station was used by NOAA. 180 missions were carried out at the station, which was stationed in the Bahamas and later on St. Croix in the Caribbean. The underwater habitat is no longer used and is today located as a museum object at NOAA’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA 113 .

– Aquarius

Aquarias is an underwater habitat located at a depth of 20 meters off the Florida Keys, launched in 1986. The habitat is operated by NOAA and is used for research on marine biology, diving equipment and diving methods. The habitat has also been used by NASA to simulate conditions during space travel and train astronauts. Four to six visitors can stay 1-2 weeks on Aquarius.

– MarineLab

Marine Laboratory, launched in 1984, has been used for observation, research, and education. NASA used a laboratory for its research on Controlled Ecological Life Support Systems (CELLS). MarineLab is today adjacent to Jules Undersea Lodge 114 .

– La Chalupa Research Laboratory

Underwater laboratory designed by Ian Koblick. In the early 1970s, La Chalupa Research Laboratory was the most advanced underwater laboratory in the world. In the mid-1980s, the laboratory was transformed into the world’s first underwater hotel, Jules Undersea Lodge, which until the summer of 2018 had had more than 2,000 overnight stays, stands at a depth of 6.5 meters. The hotel located in Key Largo charges USD 850 per night and person for a double room. As the hotel is below the surface, a diving certificate is required to book a room. The hotel, which has two double rooms, also organizes diving and snorkeling courses 115 .

The depth of 6.5 m is probably chosen because research has shown that this is the greatest depth you can stay at for a long time and then go directly to the surface without more serious symptoms of diving disease 116 .

By 2020, the following habitats are active;

– LS-1. Operated by the SALMO Ecological Divers Association – A.I. Cuza University. The habitat is on a mobile platform in Lake Bicaz, Romania.

– MarineLab (see above)

SUT grundades 1966 och har medlemmar från mer än 40 länder, inklusive ingenjörer, forskare, andra yrkesverksamma och studenter som arbetar inom dessa områden118.


100.Kaj Undén. Visited 20200429.

101.Bengt Börjesson. Visited 20200503.

102.Åke Follin. Visited 20200503.

103.Dennis Österlund. Visited 20200430.

104.Piccard. Visited 20200430.

106. Trieste. Visited 20200431.

107. Ingvar Elfström. Besökt 20200427.

108.. Poseidon. Visited 20200427.

109. Poseidon. Visited 20200427.

110. Lans Visited 20200501

111. Vasa. Visited 20200501.

112. Vasa. Visited 20200501.

113. Undervattenshabitat. Visited 20200501.

114. Undervattenshabitat. Besökt 20200501.

115. Undervattenshabitat. Visited 20200501.

116. Undervattenshabitat. Visited 20200501.

117. Historical underwater habitat. Visited 20200501.