In 1905, the U.S. Navy began development of more modern equipment, diving tables, and diving practices using experience from worldwide operations. In order to go deeper and remain longer at depth, Commander George “Papa Topside” Bond started research for the Navy in 1957 leading to the development of “saturation diving.” Bond perfected the equipment and diving tables through the “Genesis” program and the “seaLab” phases of activity. Dr. Robert Workman, a U.S. Navy Physiologist, was primarily responsible for the development of diving tables needed for saturation diving which uses a breathing mixture of helium and oxygen. In 1957, Edward Lee Taylor and Mark Banjavich, two ex-Navy divers, along with French diver Jean Valz, formed Taylor Diving & Salvage, later acquired by Brown & Root. They developed the techniques and equipment necessary (recompression chambers for surface decompression) to extend the use of mixed-gas diving to the deeper depths required by the offshore industry. Swiss physicist Hannes Keller, together with Shell Oil, experimented with diving to depths of 1,000 ft offshore California in the mid 1960s using helium-ioxygen. His efforts led to further development of the diving tables used in mixed-gas diving. In the early 1970s and for 10 years thereafter, Shell started the development of Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to conduct deep offshore inspection activities to supplement, and in some cases replace, the necessity to use divers. The first subsea completion was installed by Shell in the Gulf of Mexico in 1961, West Cameron Block 192, waterdepth 17 m (57 ft), as a test case for later deepwater application. Saturation diving was first used offshore in 1967 to install Shell’s Marlin System at 320 ft in the West Delta field.
Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following people and companies who contributed to the development of this technology:
Mark Banjavich, Robert “Bob” Barth, George F. Bond, Hannes Keller, Walter F. Mazzone, Edward L. Taylor, Jean G. Valz, Robert D. Workman
Shell, Taylor Diving (Halliburton), U.S. Navy