Deep Diver

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Name: Perry-Link #4, Deep Diver
Builder: Perry Submarine Builders
Launched: January 1966
Status: Decommissioned, donated to Smithsonian Institution
General characteristics
Length: 22 feet (6.7 m)
Beam: 5 feet (1.5 m)
Draft: 6.5 feet (2.0 m)
Propulsion: 48-amp motor
Speed: 3 knots/0.5 hr
Test depth: 1,350 feet (410 m)
Complement: 1 pilot and 3 observers[1]

Deep Diver was the name of a deep-sea scientific research submersible built by Edwin Albert Link. Deep Diver was the first small submersible designed for lockout diving, allowing divers to leave and enter the craft while underwater. It was first launched in January 1966.[2][3]

Construction and design[edit]

Deep Diver was initially known as the Perry-Link #4 and was built in Riviera Beach, Florida by the Perry Submarine Company. Its name was subsequently changed to Deep Diver and its ownership transferred to Link's company, Ocean Systems, Inc.[1][3] The submersible contained two compartments: a divers' compartment, developed from Link's earlier work with his Submersible Decompression Chamber (SDC), which allowed divers to be compressed to the ambient pressure of the ocean and leave the submersible to work underwater, and a pilots' compartment which remained at surface pressure, allowing the pilot and an observer to make dives without undergoing decompression. The two compartments were connected by a hatch which could be sealed off. Deep Diver was the first modern diver lock-out submersible.[3][4]

Deep Diver was 22 feet long and 8.5 feet tall. It weighed 8.25 tons dry. It allowed one pilot and three observers to dive for a total of 32 man-hours to a depth limit of 1350 feet. The pressure hull was made of steel, 54 inches thick for the pilots' and divers' compartments. Deep Diver's main hatch was 23 inches in diameter. The submersible featured no manipulators. It had twenty-one acrylic plastic viewports. The ballast and trim tanks provided 845 pounds and 676 pounds of positive buoyancy, respectively, when emptied. A large battery pod containing four battery banks could be jettisoned in an emergency, providing an additional 1500 pounds of buoyancy.[1]

Undersea missions[edit]

Deep Diver carried out many scientific missions in 1967 and 1968 operated from Link's underwater research vessel, Sea Diver. These included a 430-foot lockout dive in 1967 (at the same location as the 1964 Man in Sea dive by Robert Sténuit and Jon Lindbergh) and a 700-foot lockout dive near Great Stirrup Cay in 1968. Dr. Joseph B. MacInnis participated in both of these dives as an observer in Deep Diver's forward chamber.[2][5][6] In September 1967 Deep Diver carried out a classified Ocean Systems mission on the Grand Banks south of Newfoundland. A cable plow, rumored to be used for burying a strategic communications cable, had been lost in 400 feet of water. Two Navy divers had already been killed trying to recover it. A crew of four Ocean Systems personnel, including MacInnis, unsuccessfully attempted to recover the cable plow using the submersible. The mission was called off due to rising winds, and Deep Diver was barely brought safely back aboard the Canadian Coast Guard vessel CCGS John Cabot.[2][7]


Later in 1968, after Deep Diver had been requisitioned by the United States Navy to help search for the lost submarine USS Scorpion, the Bureau of Ships determined that Deep Diver was unsafe for use at great depths or in extremely cold temperatures because of the substitution of the wrong kind of steel, which became brittle in cold water, in some parts of the sub.[2] Link proceeded to design a new lockout sub with a distinctive acrylic bubble as the forward pilot/observer compartment. In January 1971 the new sub was launched and commissioned to the Smithsonian Institution. It was named the Johnson Sea Link after its donors, Link and his friend John Seward Johnson I.[2][3] Deep Diver was decommissioned and donated to the Smithsonian Institution. It was placed on display at the Marine Sciences Center in Fort Pierce, Florida.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Busby, R. Frank (1976). Manned Submersibles. Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy. p. 109. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Link, Marion Clayton (1973). Windows in the Sea. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 0-87474-130-0. LCCN 72-93801. 
  3. ^ a b c d Clark, Martha; Eichelberger, Jeanne. "Edwin A. Link 1904-1981". Binghamton University Libraries. Retrieved June 6, 2012. 
  4. ^ Busby, pp. 55-56.
  5. ^ MacLeish, Kenneth (January 1968). "A Taxi for the Deep Frontier: Project Man-in-Sea Goes Mobile". National Geographic. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. 133 (1): 138–150. 
  6. ^ MacInnis, Joe (1975). Underwater Man. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company. pp. 91–103. ISBN 0-396-07142-2. LCCN 75-680. 
  7. ^ MacInnis, pp. 81-90.