BREATHE EASY

Seabourn Club Herald - - FEATURES -

DUR­ING THE 1940s, Cousteau was cred­ited with launch­ing the aqualung, which gave birth to mod­ern scuba div­ing. In 1942, af­ter tri­als with un­sat­is­fac­tory un­der­wa­ter re­breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tuses, Cousteau added a de­mand reg­u­la­tor, which ex­tended the time spent un­der­wa­ter. The tests were con­ducted dur­ing ex­plo­ration of wrecks, of­ten with Du­mas div­ing and Cousteau be­hind a cam­era. The fol­low­ing year, Cousteau tried out the pro­to­type aqualung — and the rest is div­ing history. Un­der­wa­ter ex­plo­ration be­came pos­si­ble.

Like many in­ven­tions, it seems sim­ple in ret­ro­spect. Cousteau and his en­gi­neer had es­sen­tially re­designed a car fuel-pres­sure reg­u­la­tor and in­vented a de­mand reg­u­la­tor that would au­to­mat­i­cally de­liver fresh air when a diver breathed. This un­der­wa­ter breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus was patented in 1945 as CG45: “C” for Cousteau, “G” for Gag­nan the en­gi­neer, and “45” for 1945. With an eye to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, Cousteau swiftly gave it the English name “aqualung.” The de­vice was com­pact, portable and mount­able on air tanks to al­low for deeper dives of over an hour, with com­pres­sion stops, com­pared with the shorter, shal­lower dives of its pre­de­ces­sor (only 30 min­utes at depths un­der 30 feet). Divers could fi­nally explore the depths and mon­i­tor ma­rine life as if they, too, were born for the sea.

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