Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

Undersea Exploration

Bldg. 76

NMUSN:  Undersea Exploration

Innovations with U.S. Navy diving and exploration have been continually evolving since the 1860's.   Since that time, the U.S. Navy, working with civilian scientific community, has made advances with navigation, scientific research, diving equipment, and submarines.  Project Nekton displayed this success when the bathyscapheTrieste descended 35,797 feet on January 23, 1960, to the deepest part of the known Earth's ocean, Challenger Deep, in the Mariana Trench.  With the use of remote-operated vehicles (ROVs), the U.S. Navy has assisted to find sunken submarines such as USS Thresher (SSN-593) in 1963/64 and USS Scorpion (SSN-589) in 1968.    Some other uses of these vehicles have been to search for the British-manned submersible Pisces III off Ireland 1973, the Titanic in 1986, and the Space Shuttle Challenger in the Atlantic Ocean following her explosion also in 1986.   

Interesting artifacts in the Undersea Exploration exhibit include:

  • The bathyscaphe Trieste and the Terni Sphere, attaches to the bathscaphe's observation deck.
  • Model of the Trieste.
  • Replica of Alvin (DSV-2).   Note, the Bathsycaphe from Alvin is on display in Willard Park, just outside of Bldg. 76. 
  • Diving equipment:  Scuba-diving vest and tank; Mark XII Diving Suit; Siebe-Air Compressor; Neufeldt-Kuhnke Armored Diving Suit; Fluess Oxygen Rebreather.
  • Diving Through the Ages Dioramas:  Flavius V. Renatus' leather-breathing tubes; Niccolo F. Tartaglia's Hourglass; Diving Bell; John Lethbridge's Diving Machine; and Frederek von Drieberg's compressed-air device.
  • Siebe Air Compressor.
  • Remote Operated Vehicle from Dr. Robert Ballard's trip to the Titanic in 1986.
  • Underwater camera used for the search of USS Thresher in 1964.  Another view.
  • Sextant from USS Scorpion.

Click on the model, or replica, below for a photographic history.  


NMUSN:  Undersea Exploration:  Alvin (DSV-2)
Description: Alvin (DSV-2), replica. Click on the replica for a photographic history of the vessel.

NMUSN:  Undersea Exploration:  Mystic (DSRV-1)
Description: Mystic (DSRV-1). Click on the model for a photographic history of the vessel.

NMUSN:  Undersea Exploration:  USS Pigeon (ASR-21)
Description: USS Pigeon (ASR-21). Click on model for a photographic history of the ship.

NMUSN:  Undersea Exploration:   USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Description: USS Thresher (SSN-593). Click on model for a photographic history of the submarine.
Published: Mon Jan 07 11:46:42 EST 2019