At first glance, an impressive new exhibit at a diving museum in the Florida Keys looks a bit like a suit an astronaut would wear in outer space, but it’s actually a suit specially designed for deepwater diving, according to a recent article in KeysNet.com. The vintage deep sea diving suit, which weighs half a ton, was built in 1969 and is now being featured at the History of Diving Museum in Islamorada, Fla.
The suit, which is called “JIM” in honor of diving pioneer Jim Jarrett, is an atmospheric diving suit (ADS) that allowed its wearer to dive to depths up to 1,000 feet while it maintained a comfortable internal pressure that matched the atmosphere experienced at the surface, the article explained. Later versions of the suit allowed divers to double that depth. This submersible suit also prevented the diver from experiencing nitrogen narcosis or decompression sickness. Commercial divers would use JIM suits to do deep sea work, such as repairing oil rigs.
Old, Yet Modern
While it might seem like an ADS built in the late ‘60s is pretty old, it’s actually a good representation of the transition to newer deepwater diving suits, the museum director explained in the article. The museum has dive suits on display that date back before 1920 and give visitors a clear understanding of how dive equipment has evolved over time from an international perspective. The diving museum’s founders, Drs. Joe and Sally Bauer, lay claim to having the largest collection of historic diving equipment and research documents in the world, according to the museum’s website.
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