• Welcome to ScubaBoard


  1. Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

    Benefits of registering include

    • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
    • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
    • You can make this box go away

    Joining is quick and easy. Login or Register now by clicking on the button

Hannes Keller's 1,000' Dive

Discussion in 'History of Scuba Diving: Tales from the Abyss' started by Oceanaut, Jun 17, 2017.

  1. Oceanaut

    Oceanaut Angel Fish

    7
    35
    13
    Thanks for the welcome! Like you, I miss Dick Anderson's humor.
     
  2. Oceanaut

    Oceanaut Angel Fish

    7
    35
    13
    Some additional information from the book, in case it's of interest:

    On hearing of the deaths at Catalina Island, the Italian company Micoperi had approached Shell International Petroleum in The Hague. The Italians said that much as they regretted the loss of life, Keller had at least shown that it was possible to go to 1,000'/305M and survive, and they urged Shell to fund Keller and Bühlmann to do further research. The persuasion worked.

    In 1964, Keller and Bühlmann signed a contract with Shell. A new chamber facility, large enough to allow prolonged experiments, was installed at the University Hospital. Work began with saturation dives to 100’/30M to determine the longest half-time values for helium and nitrogen, then progressed in 1965–66 to bounce dives to 720’/220M. At the same time, Shell set up a field-testing program in the Mediterranean with Micoperi, using a large specially designed combination habitat-diving bell, Capshell.

    In August and September 1966 professional divers from Micoperi and sport divers from Switzerland made a 100’/30M saturation dive, followed by three bounce dives and one saturation dive to 720’/220M. After the dives, Shell and Micoperi formed a 60/40 joint-venture company, Sub Sea Oil Services.

    The Shell research contract ended in February 1981. Between 1965 and 1981, Bühlmann conducted some 40 dives to 650’/198M and deeper, the last and deepest to 1,650’/503M, with an excursion to 1,900’/579M. By then, seeing the Swiss and Italian research as too academic, Shell had turned their attention to Norway, to more practical research in support of projects such as the laying of a pipeline across the Norwegian trench.

    Edited by request to delete duplicate quotes and posts
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2017
  3. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: CALIFORNIA: Where recreational diving began!
    3,046
    1,218
    113
    This is certainly interesting first person account !

    I have never been particularly interested in following up on Keller's dive or even saturation diving but your detailed account from you book has wetted my appetite.

    Has the book been published -when or where will it be published ?

    SAM MILLER III
     
  4. Akimbo

    Akimbo Lift to Freedom Volunteer Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    6,418
    4,198
    113
    Just click on the blue hyperlink below the title:

    It is the only book in print that covers the technology and personalities of commercial diving's early progression into deep diving. Naturally it tends to follow it more from the early beginnings from California in more detail than from the US Gulf of Mexico, France, or the North Sea, but California was the major epicenter.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
  5. Akimbo

    Akimbo Lift to Freedom Volunteer Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    6,418
    4,198
    113
    It is really interesting how so many seemingly unrelated events have impacted recreational Scuba diving decades later. You have to wonder how much longer it would have taken dive computers to develop without Dr. Bühlmann's royalty-free decompression algorithms... or submarine disasters laying the groundwork for Keller and Bühlmann.
     
    NYCNaiad likes this.
  6. Akimbo

    Akimbo Lift to Freedom Volunteer Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    6,418
    4,198
    113
    It just occurred to me that very few divers on Scubaboard have heard of the Cousteau Constant Volume suit. This was the first suit developed specifically for open-circuit SCUBA or Aqualung divers that allowed operating in cold water for any period of time. Cousteau developed it in the late 1940s and is pictured in his book, the Silent World. It is similar to suits that British, German, and Italian Navies used for their pure Oxygen close-circuit rebreather-equipped combat swimmers.

    full.jpg

    This was about 20 years before NASA developed the waterproof zipper. It had more in common with Deep Sea/Heavy Gear suits from the 1830s than modern drysuits. The diver had to enter through a relatively small opening around the neck and a hood with a integrated oval mask and a mouthpiece for a double hose regulator sealed him in. The hood was clamped to the neck-ring to seal and the mask had a removable lens so the diver could breathe (sort of) while getting geared up.

    full.jpg

    Excess air exited from the suit through rubber one-way valves that were mounted on the hood and sometimes on both legs. Air got into the suit by the diver exhaling through their nose. Some suits had gloves and others had wrist seals. The suit material and construction was similar to vulcanized drysuits that hazmat and PSDs (Public Safety Diver) use.

    I tried one once in a test tank and must admit it is the worst suit I ever used. A real claustrophobia machine. It was a major problem if your regulator failed or you ran out of gas.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2017
    NYCNaiad likes this.
  7. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: CALIFORNIA: Where recreational diving began!
    3,046
    1,218
    113
    An old post from some years ago about the late great Harry Wham - Both a witness to history and one who made history.


    It is so sad that there very little recorded history within the American recreational diving, every organization, company or country should have recorded history, after all that is our grass roots so speak, and I sincerely hope that some one can do this. Like Ben and Chris ...


    "Thank you for contacting me over a month ago about Harry Wham. I must apologize for this late response have been very busy with my dive consulting (DEMA! ) and couldn't fit the time to respond and give Harry the credit due him. Every organization, company or country should have recorded history. American recreational diving has very little recorded history. I sincerely thank you for reminding me of an old friend whose story should be preserved

    I suggested that you post here on the California board with the anticipation that someone would recall Harry and his antics,

    Fortunately two posters were curious and had the foresight to look him up on the electronic high way and posted information.(If it is not on the internet he didn't exist) What follows is a rambling recollection of my involvement and events involving Harry
    I knew Harry. I would not say we were close social friends but recognizable friends who always enjoyed each others company when we would be united in the various diving trips and events of the 1950s,1960s.and 1970s.
    During WWII Harry was a member of UDT 10 ( under water demolition team) whose job was to essentially clear the sea/beach of natural and man made obstacles, UDT's were established after the bombing of Pearl harbor, and I believe there were around 30 of these teams. (1943-1946)
    Harry was instrumental in setting up and a member of the Lake Mead Search and Rescue Dive team.
    He was also on the committee and president of the Clark County Water Safety. He also had a very successful night club the in Las Vegas.

    He established Whamco divers in Las Vegas some time in the late 1950 or early 1960s. At that time recreational diving was in it's infancy and dive shops were few in number and concentrated in SoCal with smattering of "dive shops" with in the hinterlands of the US and the world. Therefore, Harry would visit the California coastal dive shops for advice and inspiration.
    One such shop was the Aquatic Center (AC) originally of Anaheim and later Newport beach. I think I recall meeting Harry while the AC was owned by Joe McCabe and Bob Reutherford and located in Anaheim California (where the original Disneyland is located). (see Sea Sabres Signaling System, legends of diving wwwportagequarry.com- FYI Bob developed the first UW Signaling system)
    In the early 1960s the AC was moved to Newport beach and traded hands several times finally being acquired by Omar Woods and Ron Merker. Both were well known active spear fishermen which was a measure of diving ability during that era. Ron had three spearing records (I had one) (Ron certified Dr. Bill in 1969 at the A/C)
    Harry could not spear fish in Lake Meade but was also excited about spearing and would on occasion join in on some of the trips or visit with the tribe while in OC SoCal.
    I am hesitant to continue, not that there could be repercussions to Harry for he has been spearing on that great reef in the sky for many years, but I am more concerned about the late model tube sucking bubble blowers who will emulate Harry's Lake Meade spear fishing techniques. but since most modern divers do not participate or opposed to spearfishing I assume II can reveal Harry's special Lake Meade spear point.
    It was a 1-3/4 brass ball with a 5/16 NF thread for attaching to the spear gun shaft (arrow.) Harry made one for me which I used once at Catalina. I suspect that it is the last original Wham Lake Meade point remaining in the spear fishing community.
    Under the cover of darkness Harry secretly entered the water and secured his gun with the Wham point under water. He would go diving retrieving his gun from it's underwater hiding place and spear fish. The round ball point strike the unsuspecting fish casing massive internal damage but not making the tell tale spear hole in the fish. He would string his catch on a common pole fishing stringer as if a worm drowning fisherman had caught the fish on a pole. He would exit the water with the stringer and generally proclaim "Look what I found a fisher mans string of fish !" I suspect some would still be wiggling but not a hole could be found
    He continued spear fishing that way for many years and to my knowledge he was never questioned by the local fish and game. Nor did he share his point and spearfishing his technique only with a few who are all now in the sunset of their lives or spearing on that big reef in the sky.
    There were only two active certifying agencies in those halcyon days, the very demanding and certainly prestigious LA County program and the national program; NAUI the National Association of Under Water Instructors (PADI was an off shoot of LACO & NAUI and appeared ten years later as a private enterprise) Harry was one of the early NAUI instructors. I am not certain when he joined but I recall he had a rather low number some where under 100.I am NAUI # 27 , Ron Merker, (Dr.Bill's basic and only instructor was around 85. Perhaps Dr Bill can retrieve his NAUI certification and post Ron's NAUI instructor number) As I recall Harry's number was between Rons and my NAUI Instructor certification number. so some where around and possibly under 100, making Harry one of the early NAUI instructors.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~END OF PART ONE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
     
  8. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: CALIFORNIA: Where recreational diving began!
    3,046
    1,218
    113
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~PART TWO ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    As would be expected Harry's dive classes would be populated with long legged lovely Los Vegas show girls. He had a standing offer for any of the SoCal instructors who happened to be in LV to drop in on his class to be a guest lectured or if you had a program on diving present it. He would arrange for you to present it to his class or assemble a small group for viewing. I had a number of movies and side presentations I could have presented but marriage, raising a large family, and and practice put the damper on my participation. I have one friend who was single and took Harry up on lecturing to his classes.

    On occasion Harry would appear at Pierpont landing (which is no longer in use as a dive boat pier) with his classes for a Catalina Dive trip. It was always a refreshing sight to see the lovely's walk down the gangplank to the waiting dive boats. One trip two appeared in rather risqué dress for that period and in high spike heals. I would liked to been on that trip as observer
    .
    Harry owned a dive truck which was ambulance. WW11 Dodge ambulances w
    ere the vehicle of choice in the early days of diving; They were rugged cheap to purchase as WW11 war surplus and you could sleep in them at the beach for an early morning wake up and sunrise spear fishing. They would be equal to the popular vans and RVs of today.

    After service during the Korean War I purchased a 1942 1/2 ton Dodge ambulance which I "tricked out" for diving. My roommate at the time was JoeBob McCabe, the founder of the AC who was a member of the tribe . He had a 1943 3/4 ton model Dodge , the Socal compressor man Leo Berns who was also in the tribe, installed a rather large Rix WW11 surplus compressor immediately behind the front seat which ran off the PTO. Both vehicles were highly modified for traveling to the unexplored never dove Baja. We had roof racks constructed from bed frames, gasoline racks welded to the front fenders and on the backdoors. The interior floors were covered with used carpets as sound proofing and warmth. The late Bob Rogan another member of the tribe obtained some passenger car seats which did not have the current high back which allowed the use of two stretchers which could be folded down on top of the low seats for sleeping. These were our dedicated dive trucks. (take note Mt Chairman Pete)

    On June 4, 1960 a number of Bob's close friends went to Catalina on the Veleron dive charter boat to salvage a 7000 pound anchor resting in 110 plus feet of water . Most of the salvage effort was confined to 110 to about 130 feet, JoeBob and Bob's wife Sheri were to dive to 160 placing marker buoys along the exposed anchor chain. We all surfaced fully saturated to set out our decompression obligation, when it was discovered JoeBob was missing. We contacted Al Hansen, the only commercial diver at Catalina who discovered JoeBob's body at 220 feet. It was later determined he succumbed to CO poisoning from the air pumped by the compressor in the truck. Life #1 lost
    A few weeks later Joe's long term girl friend, Meredith ?? who were in ever sense of the word soul mates, took her own life by hanging. Life #2 lost. She was a very close friend to Marilyn Winterhalter (aka Mary Summerstopper) who was married to Bev Morgan, a member of the tribe who later established the very successful commercial swimmer helmet company
    Kirby-Morgan, which is now located 20 miles from my current home.

    The anchor was later salvaged and sold to Mac Mc Clintock for display at his Pierpont landing . It now rests in front tof the San Pedro Marine Museum I am in contact with Mac's daughter Sandy, who resides in my town (Whos e mail address I lost with a computer crash)

    On December 3, 1962, the small but very active SoCal diving community gathered off Catalina Island for the much awaited Hannes Keller's 1000 foot dive. Keller and English diver/journalist Peter Small were to make the dive. I recall well when the capsule landed on the bottom at 1000 feet- pandemonium reigned as if a new king has been crowned! The USA was on it's way for a Wet NASA

    All went well until 200 feet below the surface on the ascent. A dive fin had been caught in the hatch allowing precious life support gas to leak. The late Dick Anderson and English UCLA grad student Chris Wittataker were acting as support divers, so they dove to 200 to cut the fin to allow the hatch to close, however they did not get it closed all the way. They were running out of time so Dick motioned to Chris to surface, but he never did . Life #1 lost. Dick was saturated and could not dive so the back up diver SIO CDO Jim Stewart dove down and closed the hatch. When he secured the hatch there was a malfunction whci casued him to shoot to the surface rather rapidly. (see History of Scuba Diving | Legends of Scuba Diving | Portage Quarry Recreation Club "James Stewart; an early dive expert.")

    About 2-3 three weeks later I ran on to Dick. Dick always had a massive head of hair...he parted it for me and there was a huge scab bed, proof positive that he certainly used his head to attempt to close the hatch.
    The capsule surfaced and was loaded on the Navy support vessel where it was discovered Peter had succumbed to the effects of the dive. Life #2 lost-- Peter had recently married a lovely lady who became distraught at losing the love of her life so about 3 weeks later Mary turned on the gas and stuck her head in the oven . Life #3 lost

    All this drama and hectic activity on the support vessel was being documented on film by Harry Wham. (GOK how he waggled the assignment but he did) Periodically Harry and Jim would give an update status report to the other boats surrounding the mother ship..

    I was some what busy with my practice and for several years was out of touch with the tribe. (By the way when we were participating in diving we were all just a "bunch of lousy divers" void of titles....My how time has changed!.

    Leo Berns's wife .Ginger passed away some years ago. I sent a condolence card and since we were such long term friends with many early diving adventure I considered it appropriate to followed up with a long over due catching up telephone conversation. During the course of the conversation I mentioned I had not heard from Harry Wham for some time. In typical Leo fashion "You probably won't he is six feet under." That was when I learned of Harry's passing.
    His demise was an American tragedy...Pure Las Vegas tragedy
    When Harry married his last wife "he didn't marry well..." She had her problems and brought a surplus of baggage....As related to me by Leo Berns and as I remember the events leading to Harry's demise;

    One weekend morning Harry's wife and step daughter suddenly decided they would like hot donuts for breakfast and pleaded with Harry to "jump in his automobile and run to the donut shop and purchase some." As he was slowly backing out of his drive way he was approached by and black man who suddenly pulled out a pistol and shot Harry in the face at point blank range. The shooter then jumped on bicycle and rapidly pedaled off down the condo lined alley way. The shooing was considered an attempted robbery since Harry often took the night's receipts from his club home with him. The shooter was never identified and the matter went into the cold case file.

    A period of time passed--- I am not certain how long perhaps a year or more and there was a repeat performance. The wife and step daughter wanted hot donuts for Saturday breakfast. The ever so obedient Harry jumped in to his automobile and slowly began backing out of his garage. Once again a black man approached Harry in the automobile pulled out a pistol and emptied it at point blank range into Harry's face and body. Once again he jumped on a bicycle and began peddling down the long condo drive way. This shooting was later in the morning than the first one therefore a number of the condo residences' were out and about doing the early morning activities. They knocked the perpetrator of his bicycle and pounded him to subdue him until the police arrived.

    The shooter was a hired gun turned states evidence to save his life which evolved pointing a finger at Harry's wife and TWO step daughters. Apparently he was from eastern US which is why he could not be identified as a local by Harry during the first shooting. The shooter was paid $50,000.00 to shoot and kill Harry, $25000.00 came from Harry's wife and $12500.00 form each of the step daughters.

    I recall Leo stating the shooter is still on death row, is now in his 70s As I also recall the wife received life and the step daughters rather lengthy prison terms.
    This was as told to me by Leo and as I recall the event after all these many years. I am sad to report Leo is no longer with us and is also diving on that big reef in the sky"
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Harry's dive operation was acquired by the late Kent "Rocky" Rockwell, who eventually closed it for good . Some of you may recall the name Rocky Rockwell; for about 10 years he was the editor of the Historical Diving Society (HDS) journal.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I think of Harry Wham every time I eat a do nut. I now suspect you will also think of him when you have a do nut !

    Sam Miller, III

    470
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2017
    NYCNaiad and Akimbo like this.

Share This Page