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News Link • Underwater Exploration and Living

The Navy Is Sick of the One-Person Subs It Uses for Deep-Sea Diving

• Wired.com
 To survive at the deepest depths, divers need enormous, cumbersome, pressure-resistant suits that limit their mobility. But the Navy is sick of trading survivability for flexibility, no matter how far into the briny deep its divers wade.

In the Navy’s most recent round of technology solicitations to small businesses, the seafaring service is looking for someone to develop a lightweight atmospheric diving suit that weighs under 400 pounds and can withstand pressure at 1,000 feet below sea level. If the weight requirement still sounds pretty heavy, consider that the current generation of deep-sea suits can weigh thousands of pounds, limiting what divers can do in them.

According to the solicitation, the new diving suit is for “expeditionary diving and salvage forces” (.pdf) and retrieving “high value material” in “austere environments.” Unlike the bulky suits divers currently wear — really more like one-person submarines — these might be light enough so divers can propel themselves with their own feet.

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