Posts Tagged ‘1920’

1920 – Submarine Salvage Vessel – John C. Setlow (American)


1920 – Submarine Salvage Vessel by John C. Setlow




Submarine salvage vessel

Publication number    US1450232 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Apr 3, 1923
Filing date    Mar 6, 1920
Priority date    Mar 6, 1920
Inventors    Setlow John C
Original Assignee    Setlow John C


In the usual type of submarine salvage vessels, the salvage or wrecking tools are mounted on the exterior of the vessel and are operated from the interior of the vessel. It has therefore been necessary to lead the operating shafts, rods or similar mechanisms for driving and controlling the tools, through stuffing boxes, ball and socket joints or the like provided in the shell of the vessel. Consequently the depth to which salvage vessels have been operated has been limited to comparatively shallow water since the pressure of the water at great depths is sufficient to cause leakage at any point where a working joint is provided between the interior and exterior of the shell regardless of packing measures which may be taken to prevent such leakage.

Therefore it is one of the objects of my invention to increase the working depth of salvage vessels by dispensing with working joints in the side of such vessels by the positioning of electric motors, constituting the operating or driving means for the salvage tools, on the outside of the vessel, and by the positioning of the controlling means consisting of switches, within the vessels. Said controlling means and operating means are connected by electricity conductors, mainly in the form of wires, said conductors at point of entry into the vessel being of novel construction which will preclude the leakage of water into the vessel at this point.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a salvage vessel wherein the salvage tools are of such a character as will enable the operator to perform comparatively intricate tasks with comparative ease. …..

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1916 – Submarine Armor Suit – Frank W. Walters (New Zealander)

The_Evening_News_Fri__Aug_19__1921_ - Copy-x640 

Caption: Walters suspended from ship's derrick and about to be lowered into the deep with the aid of a helper.

"Marine Scarecrow" Wins Fortune From Sea Floor
VANCOUVER, B. C., Aug. 18.-Frank Walters, "Marine Scarecrow," makes his living on the bottom of the sea. And it's a good living, too, because Walters, a professional diver, salvages the valuables from wrecked ships. Brazen mermaids couldn't make Walters lose his cool head if they wanted to, because it's encased in part of the heavy aluminum armor he wears, and which is his own invention. Under fathoms of water, in the eternal marine twilight, the prowling "scarecrow" exhumes his treasures from the graveyards of North Pacific ships with only the curious fish for companions. Sunken vessels he has recently searched are the "Princess Sophia," the "State of California," the "Islander," with a quarter million gold in her gaping hold, the "Mariposa," "Zilla May," "Dora' and other mercantile marine corpses that clutch treasures in bullion. Walters has made a fortune in gleaning the sea floor.

Source: Logansport Pharos-Tribune, August 18, 1921.

Frank Walters was constructing his aluminium diving suit from 1916. Source: New Zealand Herald, Volume LIII, Issue 16375, 1 November 1916, Page 9

A professional diver from New Zealand, he also invented and improved diving dress as well. See Canadian patent 192,333.


Submarine Armor Suit

Publication number US1359132 A
Publication type Grant
Publication date Nov 16, 1920
Filing date May 21, 1919
Priority date May 21, 1919
Inventors Walters Frank W
Original Assignee Walters Frank W


Earlier in 1921, Walters had set a new deep-sea diving record of 396 feet. Source: Brownwood Bulletin Texas, March 26, 1921.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1919 – Diver’s Armored Suit – Victor Campos (Spanish / American)


1919 – Diver's Armored Suit by Victor Campos. Rendering by Jason Clark


Diver's suit
Publication number    US1414174 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Apr 25, 1922
Filing date    Jul 17, 1919
Priority date    Jul 17, 1919
Inventors    Victor Campos
Original Assignee    Victor Campos

1. A diver's suit of a non-flexible pressure resisting material having members connected with each other by a leak-proof joint, the joint comprising two parts, of which one part is provided with a recess containing a liquid and the other part is provided with a flange fitting into the said recess with its end spaced from the bottom of the recess and bearing against the said liquid.
2. A dlver's suit of non-flexible pressure resisting material having members connected with each other by a joint, the joint comprising two parts of which one is provided with an annular recess containing a liquid, and the other part is provided with an annular flange fitting into the said recess and bearing against the said liquid, the said flange having inner and outer packing rings, and means holding the said flange part in position on the said recessed part and the said parts on the body.
3. In a divers' suit; a body, a limb, and a joint for connecting the limb thereto, said joint consisting of a flanged member having an annular recess-containing a liquid, a flange on the member and fitting in the recess with its end spaced from the bottom of the recess and bearing on the liquid, a retaining ring engaging the flanges of the limb and member, and bolts passing through the ring and flange of the member into the body.

The suit is not known to have been made.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1917 – Diving Armor Suit – Benjamin Franklin Leavitt (American)


The 1917 version of the Leavitt deep-sea suit.



Publication number    US1327679 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Jan 13, 1920
Filing date    Jan 15, 1917
Priority date    Jan 15, 1917
Inventors    Leavitt Benjamin F
Original Assignee    Leavitt Diving Armor Company

The invention relates to improvements in diving apparatus and its object is to provide a diving armor designed to permit a diver to descend to depths where the hydrostatic pressure is comparatively great, and which will allow sufficient use and freedom of motion of the limbs, hands and feet to permit working at such depths.

Other objects are to facilitate the assembling and taking apart of the sections comprising the armor; to efficiently protect the electrical connections; to render the supporting cable and electrical connections quick-detachable from the armor; and to provide a safe air supply system that will eliminate hose connections to the surface.



The object to the left of the image is Leavitt's other invention, the deep-sea electric lamp. See US patent number US1611651.

Popular Scienceaug1922-leavitt-2-x640

Multiple Leavitt suits being manufactured.

Source: Popular Science, August 1922.


A frontal view of the Leavitt all-metal deep water diving suit. The only connection with the surface is a special steel cable by which the diver is lowered and raised. This cable has in its core a telephone circuit which permits the diver to maintain vocal communications with person on the salvage craft. This particular suit is equipped with heavy rubbers gloves which could be used up to 150 feet. At greater depths the suit would be fitted with pincers or tongs operated from within sleeves of the armor.
Source: here.

The_Bridgeport_Telegram_May_23_1922_ Leavitt-x640






Diving Armor Suit used in salvaging the Pewabic..

Image and text source: The Sun and The New York Herald,  May 9, 1920.

Only Woman Salvager Regains Riches From Lakes and Sea.

Mrs. Margaret Campbell Goodman

Always a Dreamer
"I was always a dreamer," she says, "and I can hardly remember when I first began to dream that there was a fortune in deep sea salvage. The reality came when I became interested in a suit of diving armor. I was one of twenty-six who saw experiments with it, where the inventor demonstrated in Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan. Its possibilities by descending 361 feet and remaining under water forty-five minutes.
"This first deep sea suit had no strut rods. A commercial tube was used that was covered with diving suit cloth and the armored diver was raised and lowered by a manila rope. The armor had a helmet, equipped so the diver was in constant communication with the ship above him, but in this first successful descent the telephone was not detachable and the telephone line was a separate cable. The safety valve was at the bottom of the caustic soda cartridge. Air was not pumped down to the diver, but furnished from a tank and sent in a continuous current after being breathed through the soda cartridge and thus cleansed of carbonic gas. The diver could remain down for the life of this soda cartridge, about an hour.
"The improved armor has strut rods and a special interlocked, tapered, very flexible tube made of copper braided with wire covered with pure gum rubber. The raising cable is of steel with the telephone in the centre, and is connected directly to the helmet. The phone bracket is screwed into the helmet and is detachable. The glasses are one-half-inch smaller than in the first model and the frontal light is tipped to an angle of 30 degrees. The armor is fastened together at the breast and shoulders with bayonet lock and the arm tubes are detachable from the shoulders." ….

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1917 – Submarine Armor – Charles H. Jackson (American)

psfeb23-jackson-1 -x640

Submarine Armor invented by Charles H. Jackson achieved a depth of 360 feet in December 1919 with Frank Turner as the diver.







Deep Sea Suits and Diving Records       Source: Scientific American (January 1920)
There appears to be no little rivalry of late in the matter of diving suits and deep sea diving records. And why not? Five years, more or less, of intense warfare directed against merchant shipping has paved the bottom of the sea with many valuable cargoes which await the deep sea diver. Recently John T. Turner of Philadelphia, Pa., a diver of international repute, went down 360 feet and reached the bed of the ocean 15 miles east of Graves Light, near Boston, Mas. For this test he wore a diving suit invented by a colored mechanic, Charles H. Jackson, who is shown standing to the left of the diver, in the accompanying photograph. While this feat was proclaimed a world's record, a glance through our records discloses the interesting fact that it is still one foot less than a previous record. In a demonstration in Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan, during October, 1916, B. F. Leavitt descended to a depth of 361 feet in a new diving armor of which he is the inventor, and remained under for 45 minutes. In the Leavitt suit the diver has little difficulty with the joints, and it is claimed that recent improvements have made it more or less proof from “freezing,” or binding. A telephone in the helmet permits the diver to keep in constant communication with the men aboard the ship, and to direct their efforts, it being understood that the diver can do little physical work while at that depth and clad in such armor. His function is more one of directing operations carried on by machinery. Both the Jackson and Leavitt diving suits have much in common and it will be interesting to note how they are applied in actual salvaging operations.



Source: Popular Mechanics, Feb 1920.





Charles H. Jackson c1919. Source: here.

Although some press articles mention that Jackson patented his armor, I've been unable to locate any such patent. However, I did locate a Canadian patent for a diving helmet,


(12) Patent:     (11) CA 177249
(54) English Title:     DIVING ARMOUR

(72) Inventors (Country):     

JACKSON, CHARLES (United States of America)
JACKSON, HENRIETTE MINNIE (United States of America)

(45) Issued:     1917-05-22
(22) Filed Date:     1917-03-26

See other early Underwater Robots here.