Sealab: America's Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor

Sealab: America's Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor

by Ben Hellwarth

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Overview

Sealab: America's Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor by Ben Hellwarth

Sealab is the underwater Right Stuff: the compelling story of how a US Navy program sought to develop the marine equivalent of the space station—and forever changed man’s relationship to the sea.

While NASA was trying to put a man on the moon, the US Navy launched a series of daring experiments to prove that divers could live and work from a sea-floor base. When the first underwater “habitat” called Sealab was tested in the early 1960s, conventional dives had strict depth limits and lasted for only minutes, not the hours and even days that the visionaries behind Sealab wanted to achieve—for purposes of exploration, scientific research, and to recover submarines and aircraft that had sunk along the continental shelf. The unlikely father of Sealab, George Bond, was a colorful former country doctor who joined the Navy later in life and became obsessed with these unanswered questions: How long can a diver stay underwater? How deep can a diver go?

Sealab never received the attention it deserved, yet the program inspired explorers like Jacques Cousteau, broke age-old depth barriers, and revolutionized deep-sea diving by demonstrating that living on the seabed was not science fiction. Today divers on commercial oil rigs and Navy divers engaged in classified missions rely on methods pioneered during Sealab.

Sealab is a true story of heroism and discovery: men unafraid to test the limits of physical endurance to conquer a hostile undersea frontier. It is also a story of frustration and a government unwilling to take the same risks underwater that it did in space.

Ben Hellwarth, a veteran journalist, interviewed many surviving participants from the three Sealab experiments and conducted extensive documentary research to write the first comprehensive account of one of the most important and least known experiments in US history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743247450
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 01/10/2012
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Ben Hellwarth grew up in Los Angeles and began reporting, writing, and editing for papers in the Bay Area after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley. He won a number of notable journalism awards in the 1990s as a staff writer for the Santa Barbara News-Press, then part of The New York Times Regional Newspaper Group. He currently lives with his family in western Pennsylvania. Sealab is his first book.

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Sealab: America's Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
adorf7848 More than 1 year ago
Anyone who has ever watched Star Trek has heard the narration proclaiming outer space to be the "Final Frontier." It might be a great sound bite for the times but even while astronauts were circling the planet and landing on the moon and as the famous "space race" with the Russians was in full throttle there was another frontier waiting to be explored. This was Earth's inner space, otherwise known as our oceans. Ben Hellwarth's new book "Sealab: America's Forgotten Quest To Live And Work On The Ocean Floor" is the compelling true story of America's attempt at dominion over the seas. In the early 1960s, Navy Doctor George Bond authored a proposal to explore and make a presence on the ocean floor. He felt it would not only be beneficial to the Navy in terms of military and rescue acumen but there would also be spin-offs into civilian life as well as "endeavors such as mineral mining, marine biology, and marine archaeology". As the author says about Dr. Bond, he "believed that undersea exploration would bring the next generation of antibiotics, and that massive supplies of fresh water that boiled up from the continental shelf could be tapped. He believed, too, that the very survival of the human species depended on our ability to take up residence on the seabed and learn to harvest the ocean's edible protein." Even though the concept of living on the ocean floor goes at least as far back as Jules Verne, Dr. Bonds' "Proposal for Underwater Research" with his exploration and exploitation ideas was rejected by the Navy. A former country doctor used to working on his own, Dr. Bond ignored the official rejection and began sub rosa experiments on the ability of animals (and ultimately man) to adapt to and work in the increased pressure under the ocean, recruiting a small team of like-minded scientists and divers. "Sealab: America's Forgotten Quest To Live And Work On The Ocean Floor" is the story of how Dr. Bond and his ever-changing cast of co-workers went from humble, unapproved experiments - often paid for out of their own pockets - to an always underfunded, often jury-rigged, project which ultimately would change the world while not necessarily turning out the way it's principals imagined. And it's a great story and a wonderful read. There are heroes and villains, triumphs and tragedies, lives, deaths and near-deaths, joy and sorrow, blame and fault-finding, fascinating characters including a former astronaut, surprising outcomes with a dose of international espionage to boot. Chock-full of facts from government documents (though certain details of the project remain classified) and drawn from author Hellwarth's personal interviews with many of the remaining living individuals involved in the Sealab projects, "Sealab: America's Forgotten Quest To Live And Work On The Ocean Floor" is an incredibly detailed history, crisply written and abundantly footnoted. The writer makes all the arcane details understandable and gives the reader the feeling of being present as the events occur, a major success for Mr. Hellwarth. It also made me wonder about not only how different our understanding of the effects and extent of climate change might have been had the Sealab program had not been discontinued but also whether America should once again take on this challenge. Fascinating and exceptionally readable, Ben Hellwarth's "Sealab: America's Forgotten Ques
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Moss sat down. <p> Lichenkit laughs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago