A Navy diver submerged 2,000 feet, setting a record using the new Atmospheric Diving System (ADS) suit, off the coast of La Jolla, Calif., Aug. 1.
Chief Navy Diver (DSW/SS) Daniel P. Jackson of Navy Reserve Deep Submergence Unit (DSU) was randomly selected to certify the ADS suit for use by the Navy.
"I feel like the luckiest guy in the world," said Jackson. "I am honored and privileged to be the first diver to go down to that depth."
The certification was the culmination of 11 years of planning, designing and testing by multiple agencies to develop the ADS suit, also known as the Hardsuit 2000.
"This is the biggest piece of teamwork that I have ever seen in the Navy," said Cmdr. Keith W. Lehnhardt, the officer in charge of the project.
Lehnhardt said the project was a collaboration of so many different organizations, such as DSU, Submarine Squadron 5 and Diving Systems Support Detachment.
Jackson said, "I was just a guy tied to a rope. It was the ADS team that made it all possible. They were incredible."
Developed by OceanWorks International from Vancouver, British Columbia, the Hardsuit 2000 was designed to withstand underwater pressure at 2,000 feet. Current models have only been able to go down as far as 1,200 feet.
"The suit worked incredibly," said Jackson. "It did everything it was intended to do. I always heard that around 1,300 feet, the joints of the Hardsuit 2000 would work even better, and it worked exactly the way they said it would."
Meeting the Navy's high safety requirements, the ADS suit was designed and acquired by the Navy to support submarine rescue.
"Its specific purpose is to be part of the advance assessment system during a submarine rescue operation," said Lehnhardt. "The diver in the suit will see what the damage to the sub is and find out where the survivors might be."
"At 2,000 feet, I had topside turn off all the lights, and it was like a star show. The phosphorescence that was naturally in the water and in most of the sea life down there started to glow," Jackson said. "When I started to travel back up, all the lights looked like a shower of stars going down as I was coming up. It was the best ride in the world.