by Lieutenant Commander Don Groves, U.S. Naval Reserve
Monday, July 23, 2012 9:36 AM
An odd looking, 40-foot vessel, equipped with pontoon-shaped appendages, was launched from the navy’s oceanographic research tower, Argus Island, on 20 July 1964. Instead of floating, this vessel-the Sealab I-promptly sank to the bottom, 192 feet below the surface.
Twelve hours later, four navy divers entered the Sealab 1, prepared to begin a unique 21-day experiment.
Their assigment was to participate inthe Navy’s first protracted physiological-engineering test to determine how men can work freely and for extended periods in the hostile underwater environment.
Sealab 1 being lowered into the water from alongside the pier at the U.S. Naval Station Bermuda, July 1964.
Sealab I was the first experimental underwater habitat developed by the Navy to research the psychological and physiological strain of extended periods spent living and working underwater.
Two more Sealab experiments followed the first, providing information that helped advance the science of deep sea diving and rescue.
The following article, published in the February 1965 issue of Proceedings, discusses the goals of Sealab 1, and the results of the ten day experiment.
SEALAB I, II, and III were experimental underwater habitats developed by the United States Navy to prove the viability of saturation diving and humans living in isolation for extended periods of time. The knowledge gained from the SEALAB expeditions helped advance the science of deep sea diving and rescue, and contributed to the understanding of the psychological and physiological strains humans can endure.