Trans-substantial Catholics

Watch this. What are the priests doing? Catholic Litmus Test If you are Catholic, then I hope for the sake of your soul you said he is welcoming Christ bodily into the world. If you didn’t you aren’t looking too […]

Poor Hanno

According to the pop-psychologist-pseudo-science writer Malcolm Gladwell in his magnum lite-opus, the Tipping Point we as a species need risk takers. Individuals who are willing to put it all on the line in pursuit of a goal will, if they […]

Intelligence and Happiness?

A while ago, the Inquisition pondered the nature of intelligence, and whether a certain outlook or attendant mental abilities are guides to or from happiness. This has been obliquely in the news of late…

Buried by the Sea

Its odd. Most graveyards in Connemara appear to be near water, if not actually right on the coast. Why? West Galway, or Connemara, has a lot of unused space. Admittedly, much of the land Connemara is industrially and agriculturally useless, […]

Cycling Two Abreast

Cycling two abreast in Ireland is legal, a protected practice, and it is safer.

Indoors / Outdoors (Defuse)

A talk given by The Inquisition at Defuse, on Wednesday 7th November 2012, as part of Designweek in Dublin, Ireland

Nürnburg’s Extra Bombs

Nürnburg got ripped to shreds by Bomber Harris’ boys. By how much appears to be open to debate.

Law & Morality

The preface to HLA Hart’s publication of his 1961 lecture series on the meeting of law and morality is as prevalent today as it ever was.

Foy – The Bodiless Head

A bodiless head is revered as being Saint Foy, who died a cruel death.

Coffee Haters

There are people out there who pretend to like coffee. Coffee Haters – you have been warned.

False Flags 2

False flag, covert ops by Americans against Americans? Sounds crazy, and so it was deemed.

Plastic 55 Years Ago

55 years ago Roland Barthes considered the importance of plastic and what it meant, as a substance and a symbol.

Cesare Borgia’s Party

The Pope, his son and fifty prostitutes – Cesare Borgia’s party.

Marriage – A Potted History

Marriage is thought by many to be a fixed rite, one which is immovable and inflexible. The truth is that it has not always seemed so…

Blinking Morse

The world was shocked when a victim of torture started blinking morse. The story of a US aviator captured in Vietnam.


Synecdoche is a powerful, expressive linguistic device

The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Contents Page
The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Semper Quarens - Always Looking


July 1983 National Geographic cover with WASP suit image.

July 1983 National Geographic cover with WASP suit image.

Deep sea solo dives are something not many of us will ever get to do. This is probably a good thing, although a shortlist of people who might be good candidates for an ocean floor existence is being prepared (Osama and Timmy Mallet so far).

The abiding image of a lonely soul in a dark undersea world frantically working the claws, or hands, of their suit is a familiar one to readers of National Geographic, or for the fans of more populist entertainment, those who have seen the Abyss. Putting aside the extraordinary ability of Ed Harris and his crew to swim unaided and unprotected through the greatest depths by saturation diving, when work must be done at great depths an Atmospheric Diving Suit (or ADS) is yer only man. You might look like Bender from Futurama but who gives a crap at 600m? Anyway, saturation divers are the perverts of the sea, so there is really no alternative…

The chart below featured in National Geographic and the arrows indicate the relative depths we are talking about.

Depth chart from National Geographic. Arrows indicate the operational depths of ADSs

Depth chart from National Geographic. Arrows indicate the operational depths of ADSs

The Concept

These suits are hardened shells built to withstand huge pressures while maintaining surface pressure on the diver in the suit. They have great manoeuvrability with their articulated limbs. Other considerations include communications, backup power and oxygen supplies, carbon dioxide disposal and emergency signal transmitters. They are mainly used for inspection and repairs on oil wells, but also for military recovery missions and to a much lesser extent scientific purposes. Currently the greatest operable (read: insurable by Lloyds) depth has been tested to 910m with a Hardsuit 2000. This suit’s normal use maximum depth has been set at 610m.

The advantages over submersibles are that an ADS requires less crew, is more manoeuvrable, cheaper and easily transported.

The paucity of these suits is a little baffling. On average, these suits cost around three million dollars but usually only one model is made.

Notable Cases

The JIM suit

The JIM suit

The JIM suit on display

The JIM suit on display

The JIM Suit and The Wasp
Although the concept of a hardened diving suit, pressurised to one atmosphere has existed for over 200 years the ADS name did not gain common currency until the 1970s with the Jim suit (pictured above). The JIM suit was developed at this time by DHB Construction.

The WASP suit at work inside the National Geographic

The WASP suit at work inside the National Geographic

The WASP suit (pictured above) and the Jim suit share a provenance, with the wasp being a legless version of the Jim. But with thrusters, so you can pretend you are a spaceship while you fix the oilrig. The WASP is a hybrid construction of of glass-reinforced plastic, machined aluminium and a hardened acrylic viewing dome.

The Newtsuit

The Newtsuit



Phil Nuytten developed the Newtsuit (geddit? Nuytten… Nuyt…Newt… Wow, clever shit). It has since been refined and is now called the Hardsuit, and now has fully-articulated arms and legs and just enough room for the operator to pull his arms back into the body of the suit to operate interior controls.

There are currently 4 types of the Hardsuit: the original cast aluminium 300m-rated version (Hardsuit 1000); another rated to 364m; and a forged aluminium 600m-rated version (this is the US military on for submarine rescue work). Finally, there is a Hardsuit2500 which is at some point of development and will be rated to approximately 750m.

The next big thing?

According to Phil Nuytten’s Exosuit Swimmable Atmospheric Diving Suit will let divers go down to 300m while breathing regular air at atmospheric pressure for up 8 hours on a shift but to 3 days as life support in an emergency.

A1 submersible classification requires the life-support systems to last at least 72 hours. Nuytco has surpassed this by 13 hours. Gas for the diver costs about $35/dive, and the suit itself costs less than $250,000.

Nuytco’s own website‘s information on the suit is quite different, in the underwhelming understanding of that phrase. Anyway it’s big thing is manoeuvrability – it can be swum instead of requiring propulsion. A submarine you can swim.

Some Videos

Diving Heritage
Underwater Atmospheric Systems Newtsuit page
Underwater Atmospheric Systems Newtsuit Illustrations
Michael A Thornton’s masters Thesis pdf – $23
The Rebreather Site
US Navy
Wikipedia Entry on JIM suit
Offshore Magazine
Underwater Magazine
Diving Heritage Newtsuit page
The Scuba Site
Sub-Find – go rent yourself a suit!
Saturation diving
Oceanworks – Hardsuit manufacturers

This article was posted by on Monday, April 27th, 2009 at 03:52.
It is archived in Deepsea, Wild Places and tagged , , , , , , .

Comments are closed.

Rummage Through Inquisition's Archives

The Index