DIVEX / Divers Exchange USA ( 1972?-1981 )

In my library I have only 1 sales catalog of the Divers Exchange ( DIVEX ) with a US address in Harvey, LA 70058. This sales catalog is a hard cover folder with loose leaves in them presenting the range of goods they offered. The catalog has a note in it which announces that as of february 28, 1972 the company will move to another address in Harvey, new and with larger facilities. I cannot find an exact date the company was established. The Divex operating and service manual of the ‘Advanced’ diving system in my library shows 2 addresses for Divex at the back cover, one in Harvey, Louisiana 70059 USA and the other in Great Yarmouth Norfolk NR310LU England. So at one time they had a business in the USA as well as in England. In 1981 the ‘Pressure Products Group’ was established in England, somewhere around that date they seem to have purchased DIVEX and moved it to Aberdeen, Scotland.


In 1973 Divex bought the ‘Advanced’ diving helmet project from Beckman Instruments, Inc. but the project was sold to Bob Johnson of Able Marine in 1992. See also the ‘Swindell, Beckman, Advanced’ chapter on this site.  Currently Divex manufactures the Ultrajewel 601 regulator system which they build on the Kirby Morgan ( DSI ) SL17C helmet. Also they manufacture the Aquadine AH5 helmet: see also the ‘General Aquadine’ chapter on this site.

1981 DIVEX / ‘Pressure Products Group’ England

In another sales catalog of the Divers Exchange ( DIVEX ) is the new address indicated, in Aberdeen Scotland. The US branch seems not to have existed any longer then. This catalog explained that in 1981 the ‘Pressure Products Group’ was established in England, and DIVEX became part of this group of companies. Other members of the group were: Hyox (medical Hyperbaric Systems) Mara (Hyperbaric systems and engineering) Hydromarine (portable friction welding) and Gas Services (gas membrane generation) The address on this (youngest) catalog is Aberdeen, Scotland.

The early US Divex company logo

The later Divex - ‘pressure products group’ company logo

2011 a visit to the work floor of the ‘17C Ultrajewel 601 helmet’.

In december 2011 friend and saturation diver Marko Hranilovich invited me on board of the ship he was working on / diving from. The ship was docked for maintenance in Amsterdam at 30 minutes from where I live and I had to pick up Marko for visit at my place that evening. Knowing he’d appreciate it I invited my ‘partner in Regulator-construction’ Rob Krul and together we boarded the ‘Acergy Eagle’. Marko showed us around on board of the ship and explained how the saturation diving system works. When we entered the actual habitad where he and his coworkers live during the shifts of a month it became clear that this kind of work is not for just everybody. The room he and 3 other divers share is about the size of a Volkswagen van, even standing up is difficult. Food comes in to the habitad through a small air lock, when they want to eat pizza it has to be rolled up to make it pass through the lock. Marko explained that they work for about 3 weeks and spend the last week on decompression. In the old days they only had books and music, nowadays they have internet ( most of the time ) and telephone: ... a while ago the phone rang and initially I thought it was Mickey Mouse talking to me,  but soon I understood that it was Marko calling me from the sea floor breathing heliox ...

The actual work floor: the white round construction at the lower left is attached under the bell when immersed. The short ladder is used to get out of the bell / into the bell. The divers hop off the white platform into the water / on the sea floor to go to work. After the day-shift is done they get back into the bell, after arriving back on the ship the bell is taken off from the white platform and connected to the red lock shown in the middle of the photograph ( at this photo the bell is standing next to it due to maintenance work ) The red lock leads to the habitad where the divers rest when they are not at work.

Rob Krul taking a look into the habitad. At the right a rusty pipe is shown, that is the air-lock where the divers receive anything they need though, such as food etc.

Inside the habitad. At the right Marko, myself at the left.

Interesting furniture on board of the ship ... unfortunately it was locked.

Photograph above: Marko ( L ) and Rob ( R ) After the sight seeing tour on board of the ‘Acergy Eagle’ we decided to check Amsterdam for diving memorabilia, and in the center of the red light district we found some old english gear in display in a pub called ‘the old sailor’. The ‘Pearler’ helmet had carefully been modified into a lamp ( with a hole drilled into the back of the helmet to get the cable in ) The pump had served as an ashtray during the many years that smoking was allowed in pubs in Holland. And yes, of course we asked if it was for sale ...

But then Jim Bathgate Jr. sent me this photograph of a ‘Krasberg’ helmet telling me that this was the last version of a reclaim helmet his father had worked on:


This photograph shows a prototype helmet my Dad was building just before Al Krasberg sold out GDS to Divex/pressure products and pocketed the cash. The canister on the right side is full of soda-sorb, a bailout system, but it never progressed past prototype.


When comparing this helmet with the first helmet Divex entered the market, called the ‘Helinaut’, there is not much resemblance. In fact the ‘Helinaut’ looks more like the older Krasberg helmet ( with the large diameter regulator built on the side ) The helmet here above however looks very much like the currently built Divex ‘Ultrajewel 601’ helmet.

The first reclaim helmet marketed by Divex was the ‘Helinaut’ helmet. Around the same time, in the late nineteen eighties Draegerwerk was involved in what seems to be a redesigning of the Krasberg helmet, which patents were by then owed by Divex.  Around 1988 time Draegerwerk came out with their CCBS diving system.

Above the Draeger CCBS deep diving helmet in a later version. This one was built in 1989. The big black hoses are connected to a bail-out rebreather at the divers back. According to Draeger publications their CCBS could be dived to a max. depth of 600 meters(!) More about the Draeger CCBS can be read at the bottom of this page: http://www.divescrap.com/DiveScrap_INDEX/1942_Draegerwerk_%28_part_3_%29.html 


A question comes up: was the work Draegerwerk did of influence to the development of the Divex 601 regulators?


In January 2013 a visit to Draegerwerk, Lübeck where I met the constructor of the Draeger CCBS helmet learned, that the system Draeger built on this helmet is 100% Draeger. He told me that the concept they used for their system is identical to the concept of a Draeger ‘Pulmotor’, which was built around 1910.

Above: the Divex 17C Ultrajewel 601 helmet. In the manual of this helmet a technical drawing of the 601 exhaust regulator is shown, this drawing is dated 1991. This brings up the question: why did Divex first build the Helinaut helmets when the 601 design already existed? This question also comes up because apparently the ‘Helinaut’ was NOT a good helmet, the 601 however is a good helmet. According to Marko:


Yes you're right; Divex ie. Gas Services have introduced Helinaut system before 601. My first saturation dives for MacDermott in West African oil fields were done with KM17b/Helinaut. As I said that plunger had a mushroom flood up valve that was there to flood the return line rather than suck the diver's lungs out in case of accidental uncontrolled suction in the return line. It also used to collect dirt and grit and would start seeping water regularly after any prolonged use. As a bellman you constantly had to drain the water trap on the reclaim panel. It was far inferior system and I remember wouldn't give you very good reclaim if the pressure differential between worksite and a bell was small (ie. if you were working on the platform structure at the equal depth to the bell or even above the bell depth. It was fine if you were on the bottom usually about 10m below the bell). The 601 system is far better.

Not sure why they pioneered that system if the 601 design existed? Could it be just because that 'flood valve' as a safety feature, as the BPRs (back pressure regulators) weren't as sophisticated in the topside gasmizer setup, or didn't have safety features built in. I'm just guessing here I don't know enough about it. I will try to find out more for you.


Do you know more about the back ground story of the Krasberg, Helinaut, Draeger CCBS and the Ultrajewel 601? Then please share it with us. Thanks.

1991 the DIVEX / DSI Deep Diving ‘Reclaim’ 17 C Ultrajewel 601 helmet.

1988 Draegerwerk Lübeck CCBS ( Closed Circuit Breathing System )

Above the Draeger CCBS deep diving helmet in an early version. This helmet was used in the German GUSI test center in Geesthacht to develop a voice filter to convert the voice of a diver speaking while breathing Heliox

When you check the chapter ‘Krasberg - Bathgate’ you can see that the Kirby Morgan based reclaim helmets initially were designed by Al Krasberg and built by Jim Bathgate Sr.. But later Krasberg sold the company to Divex. As far as we can find out it seems that Divex first serial produced the Helinaut 350 regulators ( which were built on KM SL17 helmets ) Later the Helinaut was replaced by the Jewel 601 regulators. The helmets equipped with the ‘601’ are currently the standard for saturation divers and divers working in contaminated environments.

Hello David,


Looks great! I can't believe it's been nearly a year now since I showed you around the eagle. It's called now Seven Eagle, but you might as well keep the Acergy on the website as it was at that time. Just about that time Acergy finalized their merge with Subsea7 and now all the boats in the fleet have prefix Seven..


Attached a couple of pictures of the living chambers on the ‘Seven Discovery’ ( known as Disco )

A visit to the work floor of the ‘17C Ultrajewel 601 helmet’ ( part 2 )


You refer to living chambers on your website as 'habitats'. While there's nothing wrong with that, they were called that in the early days, nowadays the word habitat is more reserved for a dry type of large open bottom structure used for hyperbaric pipe welding. That structure contains an alignment pipe frames and seals for sealing the pipe and creating a dry controlled environment to weld pipe, or 'hot tap' pipelines. Hyperbaric welding is the most specialized form of commercial diving and the highest paid one. Companies like Taylor Diving & Salvage and Comex pioneered it. I'll attach a photo of a habitat from my one and only hyperbaric welding job so far.


Terminology for sat system in the industry at the moment is more like Living Chamber or just chamber 1,2,3 etc.. Interconnected with TC's (transfer chambers) sometimes called TL's (transfer locks), as they lead to TUP (transfer under pressure trunking, held together by a clamp when the bell is locked on) and to the bell. TC's or TL's are also known as wet pods as they contain shower and a toilet, and an equipment lock where wet gear (suits, under suits, helmet liners, boots etc,) can be locked out for washing and drying after the bell run.


Anyway hope I'm not over complicating and confusing you.


Many thanks for including me in your website, it's an honor to be part of it.


Best regards,


Marko

Many thanks to Marko Hranilovich for his explanations and photographs(!)

After having published the above article Marko Hranilovich sent me a reaction:

‘DiveScrap’Index

the scrapbook of diving history

19?? the DIVEX / DSI Deep Diving ‘Helinaut 350’ Reclaim Helmet

Not much can be found on this helmet on the internet but apparently this was the first reclaim helmet Divex put on the market which is in fact a helmet developed by ‘Gas Services Offshore Ltd.’ (see English chapter) which was one of the companies which were taken over by Divex. Divex then simply continued the production of the Helinaut but now under their own name. On their website Divex states that the Helinaut valve was invented by a British inventor named Alex Copson there is nothing I can find about this inventor on the internet. The Kirby Morgan helmet fitted with a Helinaut valve were offered for deep diving and for diving in contaminated environments. I still try to find the exact dates of the period that this helmet was actually built. For now I assume it was before the Draegerwerk CCBS system was developed.