Navy diving suit can withstand over 18 atmospheres of pressure at 600 ft

Its makers have described it as "the futuristic smart armor you see in movies.”
Loukia Papadopoulos
The DSEND.jpg

US Navy  

The U.S. Navy recently completed tank tests of its new deep-diving suit called the Deep Sea Expeditionary with No Decompression (DSEND) system that can withstand over 18 atmospheres of pressure at 600 ft (183 m).

This is according to a press release by the organization published on Tuesday.

“DSEND is truly a game-changer because it’s a self-contained environment that keeps internal pressure steady, as a diver descends to depths with increasing external pressure,” said Dr. Sandra Chapman, a program officer in ONR’s Warfighter Performance Department. 

“It increases diver safety, allows them to expand the operational envelope and would eliminate lengthy decompression times.”

DSEND is equipped with a self-contained life support system that encloses a diver in a stabilized pressure cocoon during the entire dive. The diver can therefore work at great depths for long periods of time and can proceed to ascend without the drawn-out process of decompression.

“Because DSEND maintains one consistent pressure atmosphere, the diver is never exposed to the negative physiological effects associated with deep diving, such as decompression sickness, cold and wet exposure,” said Paul McMurtrie, NAVSEA diving systems program manager. 

“A diver can work for long periods of time in deep water and rapidly return to the surface.”

Lightweight and comfortable

Despite being made of hard, durable material, DSEND is lightweight, allowing users to swim and walk on the bottom easily. 

The suit also has the added benefits of being easier to don and remove and can be adjusted to diver size. In addition, DSEND also reduces diver fatigue by incorporating joints, grippers, and hand attachments made from novel materials that are strong, lightweight, and mirror the natural movements of human joints.

“DSEND will allow divers to conduct harder missions by going deeper, executing faster and operating longer,” said Tom Hansen, a research engineer at NUWC Division Newport, “all while being protected by a sensorized suit of armor. It feels like we’re developing the futuristic smart armor you see in movies.”

“This system has the potential to be very advantageous to Navy divers. Eliminating the need for decompression increases safety, and the more flexible arm attachments allow us to retrieve targets and do our jobs more effectively,” concluded in the statement Navy Master Chief Jericho Diego, a master diver and the senior enlisted leader at NUWC Division Keyport.