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The World’s First Commercial Oxy-Helium Dive

Dan Wilson and the 400-foot Dive
Exhibit Opening Reception

Where: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, California

When: Friday, November 9, 2012

Begins: 5:30 pm

Cost: Free
RSVP: (805) 962-8404 x111
Visit: www.sbmm.org

In 1962 off Santa Cruz Island, Dan Wilson successfully completed a dive to 400 feet breathing a mixture of helium and oxygen. The dive was the catalyst for the expansion of deep-water mixed gas diving in the commercial diving industry. At the time, all diving outside the U.S. Navy was done with divers breathing compressed air – most of it at less than 100 feet. The only place commercial divers worked routinely in deep water was the Santa Barbara Channel, where oil companies were drilling in 200-250 feet of water. Wilson thought that with helium he could extend the bottom time at 200-240 feet from the 20 minutes on air to a full hour. He needed to demonstrate a dive to gain the trust of the oil companies. He hired Santa Barbara Radiator Shop to modify his Japanese abalone helmet and with his new makeshift equipment Dan made his demonstration descent. Within days, Phillips Petroleum decide to give Dan his new company, General Offshore Diver, a chance for diving support on the drilling vessel CUSS-I. Against considerable odds, he and his team succeeded. Two years later, General Offshore became the nucleus of the world’s first industrial diving company.

A model with the original gear is part of the exhibit. Dan Wilson’s son, Dan Wilson Jr. will be the honorary guest at the reception.


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Please contact us if you would like to know if spaces are still available.