Sealab II Endbell



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Sealab II Endbell

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Sealab II Endbell

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SEALAB II was designed, built, and outfitted at Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco. The Navy lowered it to the sea floor off La Jolla, California, in the fall of 1965.  It was designed to house ten men at a depth of 200 feet for 30 days.  The habitat was 50’ long and 12’ in diameter, and included four separate areas: entry, laboratory, galley, and living spaces. Entry while on the ocean floor was from below the habitat, with divers emerging into the pressurized habitat through an open moon pool. Whereas SEALAB I tested and proved the concept of saturation diving, SEALAB II provided evidence that useful work could be done.  The Navy conducted physiological and psychological studies to determine man’s effectiveness underwater for an extended period.  The divers evaluated the structural engineering of the habitat. They worked on a mock-up of a submarine hull and tested undersea tools; they raised an old navy jet fighter to the surface using syntactic foam; they set up a weather station, mined ore samples, experimented with plants, and studied ocean floor geology.  They also experimented with a trained porpoise named Tuffy to do courier work between the habitat and the surface.Construction of SEALAB II’s cylinder endbell used technology ahead of its time.  The large dish-shaped cap was formed from a sheet of one-inch thick flat steel placed over a die. One hundred pounds of C-4 plastic explosive were distributed on the side of the blank opposite the die. The whole package—die, blank, and charge, weighing 60 tons total—was lowered 30 feet beneath the surface of San Francisco Bay where the explosive was detonated. In approximately .004 seconds the end bell was formed. Explosive metal shaping on this scale had never been attempted before.

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