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Annotated Tekkie

How much kit does it take to safely explore the underwater world? We celebrate our innate gearheadedness with British photo phenom Jason Brown.



Text by Michael Menduno, Annotations by Garry Dallas, Vladamir Dontsov, Symeon Delikaris Manias, Marcus Rose and Robert Thomas, Design by Amanda White, Photography by Jason Brown.

The idea for the annotated tekkie project grew out of my fascination with diving technology and how many individual pieces of specialized kit are required to conduct a technical dive safely, or any (compressed gas) dive really. Of course, the deeper and longer the dive, the more equipment and consumables are usually required. Breathing underwater is strictly a technological affair. Accordingly, we share a technology-based culture. Even our breath-hold brethren require a modicum of technology—mask, fins, snorkel, exposure suit—while breathy bearers of the DRD4-7R ‘explorer’ gene are already upping the ante with liquid goggles, freediving computers, timers and alarms, talking oximeters and even a bit of nitrox pre-breathe—watch this space.

My first attempts to illustrate the concept of technology in diving were during my early days at aquaCORPS, when we created a number of spreads annotating gear and configurations for the magazine. Scientific American even paid homage to the concept in its August 1995 issue that sported a cover story on decompression illness. An accompanying piece titled, “Deeper Into the Abyss—and Back Again,” by staff writer and diver Glen Zorpette, featured tech diving pioneer Capt. Billy Deans, dressed out in an annotated, open circuit tech diving rig replete with diapers and pre-Fourth Element thermal underwear.

Illustrated Wrecker from aquaCORPS #9 Wreckers JAN 1995

This year we decided to go BIG and teamed up with British photographer Jason Brown, featured in InDepth’s “Brown in Bardo” to capture the innate gearheadedness of our beloved sport. The idea was to identify every single piece of kit worn by actual tech divers down to pieces of cord placed beneath the wrist seals to equalize dry gloves, in a number of popular configurations—see the navigation tabs below. Our models, with few exceptions, were photographed wearing their own gear. It’s interesting to note that almost every piece of equipment shown below, whether it’s rebreathers, regulators, valves, diver propulsion vehicles, exposure suits, dive computers, p-valves, you name it, is made up of dozens to hundreds of individual components.  

As a result, we are literally a walking, err, swimming with a Rube Goldberg-esque galaxy of nuts and bolts; screws and wires, O-rings, hoses, circuit boards, chips, sensors, switches, displays, plastic fittings, fabrics, all attached to our bodies, and supported by a plethora of the requisite tools, accessories, and supplies needed to keep everything in working order. Small wonder that a typical tech diver submerges wearing a sports car’s worth of technology, and that’s before her cameras and housings! Ha!

Here then is InDepth’s celebration of our technology-based underwater culture. We hope you enjoy it. I want to thank our illustrious technology-centric sponsors—DAN Europe, Divesoft, Fourth Element, Halcyon and Shearwater for making this art feature possible. I also want to thank our models, annotators, and set providers (see below) for their participation. Note that in addition to the InDepth story featured here, we are in the process of producing a downloadable Annotated Tekkie poster that you will be able to print. We will send it out via email to subscribers and providing a download link in this story. Better yet, you will also be able to request a full color printed version from your favorite sponsor shown below. Watch this space.

Finally, we would like to acknowledge that as human divers on deadline, we have likely made errors and omissions, and/or failed to identify important items that our geeky readers will no doubt discover with some relish. Our apologies in advance. If you do find an errors, omissions, or needed tweaks, please let us know, and we will make the corrections—Michael Menduno/M2

Use the following navigation links to dive into your favorite configurations:

Open Circuit Tech Diver

Open Circuit Sidemount Cave Diver

Closed Circuit Tech Diver 

GUE-style Closed Circuit Tech Diver

Sidemount Closed Circuit Tech Diver

Supporting Technology

Diving Thermals

Tools of the Trade


Open Circuit Tech Diver

The technical diving community has largely standardized its open circuit tech rig, though arguments over hose, light and computer placement persist. Here is tekkie Liam Colleran sporting the GUE open circuit configuration with verve. We’d like to extend our thanks to Ian Taylor at Skindeep Diving Charters Portland, Dorset for generously allowing us access to his 11-meter Catamaran dive vessel Skindeep.  

Open Circuit Sidemount Cave Diver

The British Cave Diving Group (CDG) has developed its own sidemount configurations for dealing with the UK’s sumpy caves. CDG diver Robert Thomas, founder of Young Divers International shows the kind of kit it takes to scoop serious booty. Thank you to Christopher Binding and Becca Burne at Wookey Hole Somerset, UK for kindly allowing access to Wookey’s beautiful show caves. 

Closed Circuit Tech Diver

An inspired TDI Instructor Trainer Toni Norton geeks out in full tech regalia in the yellow machine that fomented a revolution. 

GUE-Style Closed Circuit Tech Diver

Not surprising to anyone, GUE has developed its own closed circuit configuration. Here GUE instructor Marcus Rosewho serves as regional director for Project Baseline UK and GUE’s Community Director, demonstrates the fine points of a well-dressed (CCR) man. And check out the exploded view below, and realize that every piece of kit shown below is a assemblage of tens to hundreds of components. A massive thanks to Mary Harris at Old Harbour Dive Centre, Weymouth, Dorset for kindly allowing us to use X-Dream for the shoot.



Sidemount Closed Circuit Tech Diver

Whether worn as a primary or as rebreather bailout, sidemount rebreathers are garnering users and applications. Here Sean Connery stunt double (just kidding) cum RAID Instructor Trainer Garry DallasSimply Sidemount embodies the proper sidemount style and ‘tude amidst the verdant English countryside.

Supporting Technology

Our tekkies conduct their pre and post dive activities using the appropriate supporting technologies. Special thanks to British explorer and educator Phil Short, Dark Water Exploration, for dropping in, err, down for the stealthy cameo.

Diving Thermals

Our dynamic duo isn’t skimping on skivvies—stay wet, stay warm! A big thank you to Amy and Martin Stanton of Vobster Quay Diving CentreSomerset, UK for allowing us to use their site. 

Tools of the Trade

The right tool for the right job! Oh yeah, there’s lots of jobs! And don’t forget to wee-wee.


Here are a few in-depth volumes—both classics and newerbies—on tekkie bookshelves.

Connect With Jason Brown, BARDOCreative  here:


Latest Features


We teamed up with some potty-minded wreckers to explore the poop decks of shipwrecks around the world. Water sports anyone? We offer these heady bits.




In our ongoing search for unusual images, InDepth may have unwittingly uncovered a water-based, closeted fetish among some of the who’s who of wreck diving. I shit you not. 

The fit first hit the shan when we reached out to renowned British wrecker and photographer Leigh Bishop to see if he had any pictures of sunken shipwreck heads. Bishop was a bit dodgy in his email reply. “Just out of curiosity, who else have you asked? Has anyone actually come back and said they have photos of heads?” 


We responded in the affirmative; hyperbaric doc cum wrecker Andrew Fock had indeed sent us a snap depicting a gaggle of sunken thrones from the British warship HMS Hermes. Bishop immediately let loose a missive as if he had been holding it back. “OK,” he replied. “I was just wondering if I wasn’t the ONLY weirdo to have shots of toilets. I do have some, bear with me.” Bishop then dumped NINE images in our box in less time than it took to say “Holy crapper!”  

Once we had Fockie and Bishop in the can, the others followed quickly without raising a stink. Crappy photos started to flow in. We had hit the thunderbox! In fact, shipwreck historian and producer Richie Kohler was one of the few who was obstructed. After complaining about not having a pot to piss in, the inveterate wrecker spilled the beans, “No crappy pix here,” he wrote. “You’re shit outta luck and gonna have to head elsewhere to find a John. Sorry for my potty-mouth. Toodle Loo.” Now that’s a “Dear John” letter!

Our efforts were deeply rewarded when we learned that our late, dear brother, wreck diving pioneer Bart P. Malone (1946-2017) had a thing for honey buckets. A sweet guy, to be sure. Accordingly, we were able to extend a short but heady tribute to the legendary, old-school wrecker, one that he would surely appreciate, as you will soon learn. Thank you Rusty Cassway and Becca Boring for this offering.

The bottom line? You be the judge. We think the shit came out just fine.—M2

Thank you to these heady wreckers for their pics of pots and more; Aron Arngrimssοn, Leigh Bishop, Becca Boring, Jason Brown, Rusty Cassway , Andrew Fock, Gary Gentile, Jesper Kjøller, Chris Kohl, Richie Kohler, Nicolas Lurot, Beto Nava, Pete Mesley, Roger Montero, Erik Petkovic, Becky Kagan Schott, and Tamara Thomsen. Special thanks to John Fitzgerald and Yuko Takegoshi for inspiring the idea.

Header image: A bevy of toilets from the Cypriot cargo ship Yolanda which grounded on a reef at Ras Muhammed in 1980, spilling her cargo. Image from Alamy Ltd.

HMS Hermes

The HMS Hermes was the world’s first purpose built Air Craft Carrier. It was commissioned by the British Royal Navy in 1923 and sunk by the Japanese on April 9, 1942 with the loss of 307 of its crew. Depth (toilets): 44m/145ft. Photo (2010) by Andrew Fock.
Photo by Pete Mesley.

HMNZS Canterbury

HMNZS Canterbury, A New Zealand frigate scuttled in Bay of Islands, New Zealand in 2007. Depth: 31m/103ft. Photos by Pete Mesley.

MS Mikhail Lermontov

MS Mikhail Lermontov, was an Russian Ocean Liner that collided with rocks near Port Gore, New Zealand and sank in 1986. Depth: 28m/94ft. Photos by Pete Mesley.

SV Kingsbridge 

The SV Kingsbridge was an iron hulled clipper ship that sunk after colliding with the sailing ship Candahar with the loss of 15 lives. Depth 90m/295 ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.

SV Avalanche

SV Avalanche was a three-masted iron sailing ship that sunk in the English Channel in 1877 after colliding with the sailing ship SV Forest, which also sank. Lives lost: 106. Depth: 52m/171ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.

The SS Egypt

A P&O Liner carrying gold & silver cargo. She sank after a collision in the Celtic Sea. Depth: 127m/417ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.

Unidentified Paddle Steamer

North Sea. Depth: 50m/164ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.

SS Tuscania 

The SS Tuscania was a luxury liner that was torpedoed and sunk in 1918 in the Northern Channel between Scotland and Ireland by German U-boat UB-77 while transporting American troops to Europe with the loss of 210 lives. Depth: 102m/335ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.

SS Justicia

The SS Justiçia was British Troopship that was torpedoed and sunk during WWI near Skerryvore, Scottland. Depth: 70m/229ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.

Kensho Maru

The Kensho Maru was a passenger cargo ship sunk in Truk Lagoon during Operation Hailstorm in 1944. Depth: 36m/118ftPhoto by Leigh Bishop.

The Oite Destroyer

The Oite Destroyer was a Kamikaze class destroyer sunk in 1944 in Truk Lagoon. Depth: 66m/217ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.


Katsurigusan Maru was a cargo ship sunk by a Japanese mine in Truk Lagoon in 1944, and is Truk’s deepest shipwreck. Depth: 70m/229ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.

MS King Cruiser

MS King Cruiser was a car ferry that sank off the West Coast of Southern Thailand on 4 May 1997.  Depth: 24 m/80 f. Photos by Nico Lurot.

SMS Cōln

The SMS Cōln was a light German cruiser scuttled in Scapa Flow at the end of WWI. Depth: 36m/118ft. Photo by Jason Brown,

Aikoku Maru

The Aikoku Maru was an armed merchant cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II. The ship entered service in 1940, and was sunk in February 1944 during Operation Hailstone. Photo by the Dirty Dozen Expeditions.
Photo by Pete Mesley.


Yolanda was a Cypriot cargo ship built in 1964. She was carrying a load of porcelain toilets and bathtubs when she was grounded on a reef at Ras Muhammed in 1980, spilling her cargo. She subsequently slipped off the reef in deep water in 1985 during a storm. Depth: 15m/49 ft. Photos by Jesper Kjøller.

C53 Felipe Xicotencatl

Roger Montero—the “Mayan Diver”—perched on the throne of the C53 Felipe Xicotencatla US Built Admirable-Class minesweeper that was decommissioned in 1999, donated to the Cozumel underwater park and sunk that same year. Depth: 15m/49ft. Photo courtesy of Roger Montero.

SS Andrea Doria

A head on the iconic SS Andrea Doria which sank in July 1956 after a collision with the SS Stockholm off Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, killing 51 people.  Depth (toilet): 58m/190 ft. Photo by Gary Gentile.

USS Wilkes-Barre

USS Wilkes-Barre was a Cleveland-class light cruiser of the US Navy that served during the last year of World War II and was skuttled in 1972. She served as the training wreck for Capt. Billy Deans’ Key West Divers mixed gas classes in the 1990s. Depth: 64m/210 ft. Photo by Gary Gentile.

The SS America

The America was a packet boat transporting passengers, mail, and packages between settlements Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior, US. Built in 1898, the America sank in Washington Harbor off the shore of Isle Royale in 1928, where the hull still remains. Depth: 24m/80ft. Photo by Tamara Thomsen.

The SS Monarch

The SS Monarch was a passenger-package freighter built in 1890 that operated on the Great Lakes. She was sunk off the shore of Isle Royale in Lake Superior in 1906 and the remains of her wreck and cargo are still on the lake bottom.  Depth: 24m/80ft. Photo by Tamara Thomson.

SS Daniel J Morrell

Rebreather diver explores the captain’s quarters inside the SS Daniel J Morrell, a Great Lakes freighter that broke up in a strong storm on Lake Huron in 1966, taking with it 28 of her 29 crewmen. Depth: 51m/165ft. Photo by Becky Kagan Schott. 

The AA Parker

The AA Parker was a wooden steamship that sank in 1903 during a storm in lake Superior near Grand Marias, Michigan. Notice the bell behind the toilet. Depth: 64m/210ft. Photo by Becky Kagan Schott.

RH Rae

PThe “RH Rae” was a three-masted bark that capsized during a white squall on Lake Ontario in 1958 near Point Traverse. The wreck was explored by the Cousteau in 1980, the only time they ever visited the Great Lakes. Unfortunately, they lost a diver at this site—the only time they had a diving fatality. Depth: 32m/105ft. Photo by Chris Kohl

Shinkoku Maru

The Shinkoku Maru was a Japanese oil tanker that was sunk in Truk Lagoon in 1944 during Operation Hailstone. Below Rusty Cassway pours Bart P. Malone’s  ashes into the Shinkoku Maru head in 2019. Photos by Becca Boring 

Bart P. Malone (1946-2017)

Bart Malone post dive August 2016. Photo by Rusty Cassway

Diving legend Bart P. Malone, who passed away in December, 2017, was an avid collector of shipwreck china. (He was also the co-founder of The Gas Station, the first technical mixed gas station in the Northeast US.) Bart collected ship line china from many of the classic wrecks including the Andrea Doria, SS Carolina and the Empress of Ireland. However, to Bart the quintessential piece of china to obtain was a ships head or toilet.  It was like a giant ceramic bowl. Just bigger.  Bart did this “tongue in cheek”, because as many who knew Bart were aware, he liked to spend a lot of time in the dive boat head prior to and after dives.—Rusty Cassway

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