National Geographic : 1965 Apr
1410: Standing up in the narrow access well with water up to my waist, I wrestle with a four-foot aluminum cylinder. It houses a machine that will filter the gas in the SPII) and remove the excess carbon dioxide. At last I get its top out of water and open the equalization valve. This valve allows pressure inside the con tainer, sealed at sea level, to equalize with the 14-times-higher pressure inside the SPII). When the valve is opened, gas should rush into the container with a loud pssst. Only then can the lid be removed. I turn the valve, but nothing happens. The container is full of water. Catastrophe! Our situation is definitely not brilliant; that appa ratus is vital to us. I glance at our analyzer and see that the carbon dioxide level has risen to 0.1 percent. Our minutes here are numbered. Quickly we fetch the spare filter. It seems to weigh a ton as I thrash around on the bottom trying to drag it behind me. © NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY Round-the-clock vigil on Sea Diver: I)r. Maclnnis, a life-support scientist, checks living conditions of the men below. Large dials register pressures in rubber house and diving chamber. TV receiver at left monitors Stenuit and Lindbergh at all times. I)r. MacInnis and I)r. James (,. I)ickson belong to a Univer sity of Pennsylvania medical team, under I)r. ('. J. Lam bertsen, that works closely with the Man-in-Sea Project. Jon hands me a line. I push and he pulls; I lift and I pivot and I maneuver. I come back to the entrance well to breathe more and more often, more and more heavily. At last the monster is in place, but I am completely out of breath. Our furious efforts have raised the level of carbon dioxide to 0.17 percent. Now we discover that this container has no pressure-equalizing valve. The surface people have put on the wrong cover. I calculate rap idly: About four tons of pressure hold that cover on. No use trying to force it off. Can we pry it open enough to let air in un der the edge? No luck. I break a screwdriver, and Jon snaps a scissors blade. A glance at the analyzer shows 0.2 percent carbon diox ide. We are panting now, breathing too fast. The heavy pounding of my heart resounds through my whole body. I make a sign to Jon: (et out. And we return to the cylinder, to the sure refuge. 1430: I consider our condition. Without an air purifier, without light, without heat, (hostly image of Jon Lind bergh 432 feet down, seen on closed circuit TV, assures the crew on the surface that all goes well below. Helium in the breathing mixture drains a man's body heat faster than would ordinary air, adding to discomfort of the cold, humid underwater dwelling. Stenuit and Lindbergh wrapped them selves in towels to keep warm. Crushing force of the deep squashes cans of emergency water rations that hold small amounts of air sealed in at normal pressure of one atmos phere. During the dive the cans crumpled under squeezing stress 14 times as great as at the surface.