Sealab Restoration Project For 50th Anniversary

February 15, 2014

sealab01The Florida-based Man in the Sea Museum is raising funds to restore Sealab 1, the world’s first underwater living facility which was lowered off the coast of Bermuda in 1964.

The summer will mark the 50th anniversary of Sealab 1, which saw four aquanauts live undersea for over a week in Bermuda’s waters, in what was a ground breaking experiment of that era.

On July 22, 1964, four Navy divers – LCDR Robert Thompson, Gunners Mate First Class Lester Anderson, Chief Quartermaster Robert Barth, and Chief Hospital Corpsman Sanders Manning – submerged to a depth of 192 feet, and surfaced early on July 31, 1964 due to an impending tropical storm.

The aquanauts spent six hours a day working on the ocean floor, and as they were based in the ocean and did not have to travel to the surface and back, they completed tasks in a week that normally required a year with conventional divers.

Sealab 1 was constructed from two converted floats and held in place with axles from railroad cars, and is now on display at the Man In the Sea Museum. According to the News Herald the interior of Sealab 1 has been “largely stripped, deteriorated and has be subjected to graffiti over the years.”

Founded in 1982 and located in Florida, the Man in the Sea Museum showcases the progress of underwater technology, from the earliest days of diving to the most modern underwater habitats.

Their most recent newsletter [PDF] said, “We want to restore Sealab 1 but we can’t do it alone. We need the help of our community and we are asking all those who are a part of the diving industry to help us restore Sealab 1 and with that, propoerly honor all the people who played a part in the Sealab experiments.”

1965 video from the U.S. Navy documenting the SeaLab I expedition off Bermuda [28 minutes long]:

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  1. Historic Sealab 1 Celebrates 50th Anniversary | Bernews.com | July 28, 2014