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Storage box for diving equipment

Date: c 1950
Overall: 600 x 950 x 450 mm
Medium: Steel
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Crate
Object No: 00004221

User Terms

    A large steel storage box used for housing diving equipment.
    SignificanceThis diving box is an example of the equipment used by divers in Australian waters before the development of the wet-suit, mask, fins and self contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA).
    HistoryHard-hat equipment, which would have been stored in this box, consisted of a waterproof suit and airtight helmet, connected by a hose to an air pump on the pearl lugger's deck. The diver wore layers of woollen garments under the suit, along with mittens and boots weighing up to 7kg each. The heavy copper helmet with a glass face was screwed onto the corselet which was supported by the padded collar of the dress. Up to 50kg of weight was strapped onto the divers back and chest. Attached to the divers belt was a knife, scabbard and rope which was used to send signals to the crew before the application of radio communication equipment.

    Air was pumped to the diver manually by men turning two large wheels. The equipment and system was problematic, as divers could not regulate their air flow and were only permitted small quantities of air. The development of the high pressure compressor in the 1900s and the Ohgushi Peerless Respirator in 1918, allowed divers to manually adjust their air flow with a valve.

    In the early days of deep water diving, it was difficult to equalise the pressure inside and outside the suit, and the little-known decompression sickness known as the 'bends' claimed the lives of hundreds of divers. The introduction of the wet-suit, mask, fins and self contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) gave divers greater manoeuvrability and better air supply, and saw a decline in pearl diving fatalities. The transition to this new equipment was slow, but as diver's productivity increased the use of hard-hat equipment by Australian divers ceased in the mid 1970s.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Storage box for diving equipment

    Web title: Storage crate

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