National Geographic : 1963 May
A diver dwells for more than 24 hours in the alien world 200 feet down in the sea The Long, Deep Dive By LORD KILBRACKEN Photographs by BATES LITTLEHALES National Geographic Staff "AHOYSeaDiver! Is the captain aboard?" SI felt, I remember, like Ishmael join S-ing the Pequod in Melville's Moby Dick as I stood last summer on the quayside at Monaco and hailed the chunky white motor yacht. She lay stern-first to the quay, under the great cliff of the casino. There was no mistaking Sea Diver. Her six ton boom and lift, and the special research equipment on the afterdeck, immediately dis tinguished the 91-foot vessel from the 60 or 70 pleasure craft surrounding her. I noticed, in particular, the unusual alumi num cylinder, 11 feet long and 3 feet in di ameter, that gleamed enigmatically in the morning sunshine (page 714). My hail was heard by the crewman-as I supposed him to be-who was working in shorts and sweatshirt beside the cylinder. "Come aboard," he shouted. "I think he's somewhere below." I made my way along the narrow gang plank and we introduced ourselves. He was 718 Lt. Comdr. Robert C. Bornmann, a submarine medical officer who had been assigned by the United States Navy to observe and ad vise during Sea Diver's trials of a promising new diving device. He promptly led me be low in search of Edwin A. Link, the vessel's owner and skipper. I had met Mr. Link in London the previous spring, and with characteristic generosity he had issued me an open invitation to spend a few weeks on board. We found him in the en gine room-in shorts, sandals, and an open neck shirt-at work on one of the two diesels which give his vessel a cruising speed of 91/2 knots and a range of 7,000 miles. Inventor Turns From Sky to Sea Only five years had passed since Ed Link's main interest and whole inventive genius had begun to shift from the sky to the waters un der the sea. Till then, as is widely known, his life had been in aeronautics: He was a pio neer aviator who first flew as a pilot in 1926, and he made his name and fortune through that highly ingenious device, the Link Train er, which simulates instrument flight without leaving the ground. In 1959 Link resigned from the presidency of General Precision, Inc., to devote his full attention to underwater archeology and re search. Sea Diver, built to his design and spec ifications at Quincy, Massachusetts, as his floating laboratory and base, was launched the same year. Now he was engaged in a revolutionary Man-in-Sea Project, using undersea equip ment of his own design, which could enable divers to do useful work at far greater depths, and for far longer periods, than had previous ly been possible. This could open up millions of square miles of unexplored sea bed for sci entific research and commercial exploitation. His project had strong American backing, including the support of the National Geo graphic Society and the cooperation of the Smithsonian Institution. Link is 58, but he has the physique and en thusiasm-and the capacity for hard work -of a man two decades younger (page 713). His sharply intense features were burned The Author: John Godley, third Baron Kilbracken, has written half a dozen books and many articles for magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. For service as an officer with the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm during World War II, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. When not trav eling, he lives in London or in his ancestral home at Killegar in County Leitrim, Ireland.