In 1715, British inventor John Lethbridge drilled a pair of airtight arm holes and a looking glass into an oversized oak barrel and dove nearly 60 feet to the bottom of the ocean to recover sunken silver. His ingenuity made him a very wealthy man.
Nearly 300 years later, humans are using much of the same rudimentary technology to go much, much deeper to recover a different kind of underwater treasure: sailors stuck in sunken submarines.
The Hardsuit 2000 is the diving suit that will get you there. It is the latest and greatest atmospheric diving suit (ADS) in a long line of anthropomorphic, one-atmosphere submersibles.
Made of aluminum alloy, and fitted with articulated joints, the Hardsuit 2000 keeps divers safe and comfortable deep. No decompression necessary, no risk of nitrogen narcosis.
Developed with the help of the US Navy, this ADS is the first to take a diver 2,000 feet deep, a feat famously accomplished by Chief Navy Diver Daniel Jackson off the coast of La Jolla, California in 2006.
That’s nearly twice as deep as the world record SCUBA dive, and more than deep enough to have reached the disabled Russian submarine K-141 Kursk, which in 2000 sank off the coast of Severomorsk, Russia in just 354 feet of water.
At the time, the Hardsuit 2000 was still in development and unavailable to be used during the rescue operation. No other available rescue equipment was up to the task, as all 118 sailors and officers aboard the Kursk died, many of them several hours after the submarine sank when a torpedo exploded within the ship.
The US Navy – and now Japan, France, Turkey, Italy and Russia – hope having a Hardsuit 2000 at the ready will help its submariners avoid such a fate in the future.