Saturday, August 05, 2006

Navy Chief Submerges 2,000 Feet, Sets Record



By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mark G. Logico, Fleet Public
Affairs Center, Pacific

MV KELLIE CHOUEST, At Sea (NNS) -- A Navy diver submerged 2,000 feet,
setting a record using the new Atmospheric Diving System (ADS) suit, off the
coast of La Jolla, Calif., Aug. 1.

Chief Navy Diver (DSW/SS) Daniel P. Jackson of Navy Reserve Deep Submergence
Unit (DSU) was randomly selected to certify the ADS suit for use by the
Navy.

"I feel like the luckiest guy in the world," said Jackson. "I am honored and
privileged to be the first diver to go down to that depth."

The certification was the culmination of 11 years of planning, designing and
testing by multiple agencies to develop the ADS suit, also known as the
Hardsuit 2000.

"This is the biggest piece of teamwork that I have ever seen in the Navy,"
said Cmdr. Keith W. Lehnhardt, the officer in charge of the project.

Lehnhardt said the project was a collaboration of so many different
organizations, such as DSU, Submarine Squadron 5 and Diving Systems Support
Detachment.

Jackson said, "I was just a guy tied to a rope. It was the ADS team that
made it all possible. They were incredible."

Developed by OceanWorks International from Vancouver, British Columbia, the
Hardsuit 2000 was designed to withstand underwater pressure at 2,000 feet.
Current models have only been able to go down as far as 1,200 feet.

"The suit worked incredibly," said Jackson. "It did everything it was
intended to do. I always heard that around 1,300 feet, the joints of the
Hardsuit 2000 would work even better, and it worked exactly the way they
said it would."

Meeting the Navy's high safety requirements, the ADS suit was designed and
acquired by the Navy to support submarine rescue.

"Its specific purpose is to be part of the advance assessment system during
a submarine rescue operation," said Lehnhardt. "The diver in the suit will
see what the damage to the sub is and find out where the survivors might
be."

"At 2,000 feet, I had topside turn off all the lights, and it was like a
star show. The phosphorescence that was naturally in the water and in most
of the sea life down there started to glow," Jackson said. "When I started
to travel back up, all the lights looked like a shower of stars going down
as I was coming up. It was the best ride in the world."


-USN-