How British Columbia became an international hotspot for submarines, submersibles, Newtsuits, underwater robotics, Arctic sonar and a host of other cutting-edge undersea technologies.
In Deep, Dark & Dangerous, maritime historian Vickie Jensen explores the fascinating story of British Columbia’s rise to become a world leader in the underwater tech industry. She profiles both trailblazing innovators and newcomers to the field, and traces BC’s colourful history and bright future as a front runner in the world of subsea technology innovation.
This little-known saga began in the early 1960s. Two commercial hard-hat divers from the Vancouver area, Don Sorte and Al Trice, realized that they needed a small manned submersible with robot arms for deep-sea work. They couldn’t find one to buy, so they decided to partner with machinist Mack Thomson and build their own. Experts told them it would be suicidal to try a home-made version, but just over two years and $100,000 later, their Pisces I was successfully making two-thousand-foot dives. They formed International Hydrodynamics, which went on to build fourteen submersibles and produce a generation of experts that would launch an entire industry of subsea companies in BC.
During the same period, Phil Nuytten went from opening Vancouver’s first scuba shop as a teenager to becoming a commercial diver and starting his undersea construction company at age twenty-five. Now, Nuytten is best known for his atmospheric diving suits, Newtsuit and Exosuit, along with a series of submersibles for scientific research.
Drawing on her background in documenting both history and industry, Jensen uncovers the stories of over forty subsea pioneers, both historical and current, and details the innovations that are responsible for BC’s remarkable and continuing subsea reputation. Written with colour and flair, this is a fascinating and exciting story that anyone can enjoy.