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SCUBA Diving History | Underwater Diving in the 19th Century

Under Aquatic Diving History

The independence and working potential of the diver were dramatically improved when the Dean Brothers introduced the surface-supplied diving helmet in 1832. In 1837 Augustus Siebe significantly improved upon Dean’s original design and introduced the “closed” Diving Dress to supplement the helmet. 

This equipment widely known as the Standard Diving Dress has remained essentially unchanged and can still be found in use throughout the world. Until World War II it was the most widely used diving equipment. Advanced technology has allowed further development of this equipment with new Helmet designs and different Diving Dress materials but the basic principle of operation remains the same.

scuba history diving skeleton
scuba history diving skeleton

(Colonel Pasley and the Royal Engineers Working on the Royal George)

First Achievement 

The first recorded military interest in diving came in 1838 when Colonel Pasley, Royal Engineers, of the School of Military Engineering at Chatham undertook to demolish a collier’s wreck blocking the Thames fairway at Tilbury. 

Successful Training 

After unsuccessful attempts to position the charges using the diving bell from the Naval Dockyard Pasley trained several soldiers in the use of Mr Kemp’s diving equipment, having first tested the concept himself and thus become the first Service diver on 28 April that year. Within a short period, charges had been successfully laid by divers of the Royal Sappers and Miners and the wreck was demolished. 

The introduction of surface-supplied diving helmets and closed diving dresses in the 19th century revolutionized SCUBA diving—Colonel Pasley’s military interest further advanced diving techniques.
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