The U.S. Navy is developing a novel diving suit, the Deep Sea Expeditionary with No Decompression (DSEND) system, to enhance safety and allow divers to work longer in deeper waters. The innovative suit, compared to an “Iron Man” suit for divers, maintains consistent internal pressure, enabling divers to avoid decompression sickness and increase their underwater work time.
- The DSEND suit has been under development for over five years and answers the challenge of decompression sickness, a dangerous condition that can occur when divers ascend too quickly. The suit eliminates the need for gradual ascent, thus reducing the risk.
- With the suit, divers can work up to six hours underwater and then surface immediately, significantly reducing the time required for deep underwater tasks. This could potentially condense weeks of work into a couple of days.
- Despite the well-known concept of atmospheric diving suits, the Navy has refrained from using any due to weight and logistical issues. The DSEND system, described as a one-person submarine, addresses these challenges by being form-fitted and thus allowing divers to operate efficiently.
- The DSEND suit is still in its early stages, with the next steps being a three-year development program to build a prototype capable of diving 300 feet. The suit won’t be ready for the fleet for several more years.
- Recent demonstrations have shown that male and female divers can perform the same tasks in the DSEND suit as they could without it. Divers reportedly became comfortable in the suit after a few days of familiarization.