National Geographic : 1968 Sep
the cable take these successive jerks? If it broke, the SDC would shoot to the surface. The sudden drop in pressure might rupture the lungs of any divers inside. In fact, it almost happened to me. In order to re place the pulley, another diver and I had slackened the main cable completely and flooded the SDC to sink it to the bottom. After finishing the task, I shoved the air hose through the bottom hatch, intending to refill the sphere with air and let it rise to the surface by itself. Anxious Ascent in a Runaway Chamber As the great yellow ball grew buoyant and began to stir on the ocean floor, I thrust my head and shoulders up into it, and tried to free the hose. It was tangled and would not come free. By then it was too late. I felt the sudden rush of water against my legs dangling outside and realized that I was on the way to the surface. As the ball rose through the water, the air inside expanded, making it ever more buoyant. The chamber picked up speed and rushed upward like a missile. Just before we hit the surface, I pushed down ward with all my strength, tumbling backward and out. A ton of auxiliary ballast, bolted to a cable just a few feet below the rising sphere, shot up past my head. It missed me by inches. With my eyes closed I rolled into a ball and let myself sink back to the bottom. I knelt in the mud, wondering if I had burst a lung, waiting for a sign of blood or pain. I simply did not know if I had been exhaling on the way up, the only way to prevent a lung rupture. By some miracle, I was unharmed. "Time's up-let's go topside," Dr. Bass signals to a man in the booth. Expedition members decorated the device with an ancient Egyptian, left, and an Aztec symbols of the University Museum.