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Oxygen Exposure Management

Today, community practices limit oxygen exposures to a PO2 of 1.2-1.4 bar for the working phase of the dive and 1.4-1.6 bar for decompression depending on circumstances, training agency recommendations, and platform. Things were not always this way. In the early days of tech diving, there were big fights over what was a ‘safe’ exposure—a carryover from the deep air diving days, where a working PO2 of 1.6-1.8 was considered “no big deal.” NOT. In this 1993 story from the aquaCORPS archives, Diver Alert Network’s former and now deceased research director Dr. Richard Vann, explains the biochemistry of oxygen toxicity, reviews the data, and weighs in with recommendations for the tech community.

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By Richard D. Vann
Header image courtesy of Sean Romanowski
The article was originally published in aquaCORPS #7, C2
, December, 1993

Richard Vann. Courtesy of the Dick Vann / DAN Archives.

Knowledge of central nervous system (CNS) oxygen toxicity is unnecessary in order to breathe oxygen underwater safely at a partial pressure of one bar or less. Considerably more knowledge is needed at higher partial pressures or when the oxygen pressure changes with time. The real questions are; how much oxygen can be used safely given our current knowledge, and how can oxygen be used more effectively without sacrificing safety?

The Biochemistry of Oxygen Toxicity 

Oxygen metabolism is the primary energy source in higher life forms. Because heat energy produced by oxygen reactions, such as fire, would damage tissue, metabolic pathways have evolved that safely capture small packets of reusable chemical energy. This energy is stored in molecules called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Figure F1 illustrates some features of ATP production during the breakdown of sugar at normal oxygen partial pressures. The biochemical processes, known as glycolysis, use no oxygen and produce relatively little ATP. The major product of glycolysis, pyruvic acid, enters the Krebs cycle which releases carbon dioxide and supplies electrons needed to form ATP. Most ATP is produced in a series of electron transport reactions called the respiratory chain.

Oxygen usually does not enter the respiratory chain until the very end, where it reacts with hydrogen to form water. Should oxygen enter the respiratory chain prematurely, molecules like the superoxide anion (O2-) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) can form. These reactive species of oxygen are potentially toxic but are deactivated by protective enzymes such as superoxide dismutase and catalase.

When the oxygen partial pressure is raised (Figure F2), the production of reactive oxygen species increases and may overwhelm the protective mechanisms. This can initiate biochemical and physiological changes that interfere with normal function and cause signs and symptoms we know as oxygen toxicity. 

Convulsions are the most spectacular and objective signs and symptoms of CNS oxygen toxicity, but there is no evidence they lead to permanent damage if the oxygen exposure is discontinued promptly. This assumes, of course, that drowning or physical injury are avoided. Experimental oxygen exposures are often terminated by less specific symptoms including abnormal breathing, nausea, twitching, dizziness, lack of coordination, and visual or auditory disturbances. These symptoms do not necessarily precede convulsions. Factors which elevate cerebral blood flow, thereby augmenting oxygen delivery to the brain, appear to increase susceptibility to oxygen toxicity. These factors include immersion, exercise, and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide may be present in the inspired gas or may be retained due to inadequate ventilation. Inadequate ventilation can be caused by high gas density, external breathing resistance, or poor ventilatory response to carbon dioxide by “CO2 retainers.”



Oxygen Exposure Limits

Oxygen exposure limits, like those of Figure F3, were established to decrease the risk of convulsions for divers breathing pure oxygen or oxygen in mixed gas. Figure F3 shows three sets of pure oxygen limits and two sets of mixed gas limits. The U.S. Navy limits from the 1973 Diving Manual (USN 1973) were published in the 1 979 NOAA Diving Manual (NOAA 1979). The Navy has since modified its pure oxygen limits while NOAA has modified both the pure oxygen and mixed gas limits for its 1991 Diving Manual (NOAA 1991). Compared with the 1973 Navy/1979 NOAA limits for pure oxygen, F3 shows that the 1986 Navy limits are less conservative, while the 1991 NOAA limits are more conservative. For mixed gas, the 1991 NOAA limits are less conservative than the 1973 Navy/1979 NOAA limits.

The changes to the exposure limits of F3 reflect uncertainty concerning which limits are best and suggest an examination of the type of data upon which oxygen limits are based. These data are shown in Figure F4 and represent most of the CNS toxicity episodes that have occurred in U.S. experiments during wet, working dives at a single depth for pure oxygen or for oxygen in mixed gas. The squares represent convulsions, and the triangles represent symptoms. 

The 1991 NOAA limits are shown for comparison. While the discussion below is confined to U.S. data, Donald (1992) has recently published a large body of British data which will be very important.

The mixed gas incidents occurred at lower oxygen partial pressures than the pure oxygen incidents. Ed Lanphier, who conducted oxygen research for the Navy in the 1950s, postulated that high breathing resistance during deeper mixed gas dives caused carbon dioxide retention which potentiated oxygen toxicity by increasing cerebral blood flow. This led him to propose more restrictive limits for mixed gas than for pure oxygen. In subsequent studies, the lowest partial pressure and shortest exposure time at which a mixed gas convulsion occurred was 1.6 bar for 40 min. The corresponding exposure for pure oxygen was 1.76 bar for 72 min.

Richard Vann with Neal Pollock (L) and Petar Denoble at the Rebreather Forum 3 (2012). Courtesy of Dick Vann / DAN Archives.

The mixed-gas convulsion occurred after 40 min at 100 fsw during a wet, working nitrox chamber dive with a 1.6 bar oxy-gen set-point in a rebreather. Heavy exercise and high breathing resistance appeared to be contributing factors. Upon decreasing the breathing resistance and reducing the oxygen pressure to 1.4 bar, 110 dives were conducted with no further oxygen incidents during 60 min exposures at 100 and 150 fsw with both nitrox and heliox.

Is an oxygen partial pressure of 1.4 bar sufficiently conservative given the potential for depth control error, the unpredictability of carbon dioxide retention, and the minimal mixed-gas exposure data? The Navy is leaning towards a set-point of 1.2-1.3 bar for rebreathers where the oxygen partial pressure fluctuates during control around a predetermined set-point.

The data shown in F4 suggest a need for separate mixed gas and pure oxygen limits but are insufficient to conclusively prove this need. As a convulsion underwater is potentially fatal, however, a cautious diver might wish to use separate oxygen and mixed gas limits until further data firmly establish they are unnecessary.

Open-Water Experience 

What can we learn about oxygen toxicity from open-water diving with mixed gas and pure oxygen? The incidents described below took place within the past year.

A mixed gas fatality occurred in a southeastern U.S. cave where two divers breathed air for 15 min and EAN 40 (40% O2, balance N2) for 45 min at depths of 80-105 fsw. The oxygen partial pressure was mostly 1.4 bar but occasionally reached 1.5-1.7 bar. After 45 min of hard swimming on enriched air nitrox, one diver convulsed and lost his regulator. His buddy could not reinsert the regulator, and the diver drowned after a failed attempt to swim him out of the cave. The oxygen exposure was, for the most part, less than the 1991 NOAA limit of 1.6 bar for mixed gas diving.

Another enriched air diver who drowned after an apparent convulsion had told friends that the NOAA limits did not apply to him. His oxygen partial pressure was estimated at 1.7-2.0 bar for a bottom time of 45-50 min.

An incident involving pure oxygen occurred in a southeastern U.S. lake. After an 8 min exposure at 300 fsw on a trimix 14/33 (14% O2, 33% He, and 53% N2) a diver decompressed on EAN 32 to 20 fsw/6msw where he switched to pure oxygen. Prior to breathing oxygen at 20 fsw/6msw  (1.6 bar PO2), his PO2 was 1.4 bar except for 7 min at 1.5-1.7 bar. After 20 min on oxygen, he unclipped from his decompression line to visit a nearby diver but drifted down to 35 fsw (2.05 bar PO2) and dozed off. (An Emergency Medical Technician, he had slept only two hours the previous night.) He was awakened by abnormal breathing and the onset of convulsions but inflated his buoyancy compensator before losing consciousness. He recovered from near drowning after rescue on the surface.

It is commonly assumed that convulsions do not occur at oxygen pressures of less than about 1.6 bar, but this assumption depends on a normal seizure threshold. Figure F5 shows the depth-time profile of an 80 fsw dive that terminated with a convulsion at 34 min. The diver breathed EAN 33 with an oxygen partial pressure of 1.26 bar. After rescue, he was found to have an unreported history of convulsions and to be on anticonvulsant medication. While such a situation is rare, it emphasizes the uncertainty of our knowledge, the need to expect emergencies such as oxygen convulsions or decompression illness, and the necessity for emergency management plans.

Statistical Modeling

Do these open-water incidents over-emphasize rare events? What is the risk of a rare event? We can estimate this risk by statistical modeling of oxygen exposure data.

Suppose the risk of oxygen toxicity increased with the concentration of the reactive oxygen species produced during hyperoxic metabolism (F2) and represented below by “X”. Suppose also that the rate of change of the local concentration of X were equal to its production minus its removal. If X were produced in proportion to the local oxygen tension (c•PO2) and removed at a fixed rate (k), its rate of change would be:

where c and k are constants. When integrated, this first order differential equation gives:

The risk of toxicity is specified by a separate function of X.

Equation 1 defines a family of rectangular hyperbolas proposed empirically for the pressure-time relationship of pulmonary and CNS oxygen toxicity. Statistical modeling derives this relationship theoretically and finds the constants c and k directly from experimental data. This allows the risk of toxicity to be estimated for any oxygen exposure. 

Figure F6 shows three rectangular hyperbolas for 2%, 5%, and 8% risks of either symptoms or convulsions. These were estimated from data on 773 pure oxygen exposures. The convulsions, represented by black dots in Figure F6, occurred at estimated risks of 2-8%. In a context of risk, an oxygen exposure limit is the depth and time at the level of risk which is judged to be acceptable. In F6, for example, the limit for a pure oxygen exposure at 25 fsw (1.76 bar) would be 49 min if a 2% risk of either symptoms or convulsions were judged acceptable. The level of acceptable risk for a chamber dive where immediate rescue is possible after a convulsion is greater than for an open-water dive where drowning is the likely outcome.

Statistical modeling can track the resolution of risk as well as its development. In Figure F7, for example, a pure oxygen diver spends 120 min at 20 fsw, 15 min at 40 fsw, and 105 min at 20 fsw. His risk increases gradually to 0.2% while at 20 fsw and rapidly to 4.1% at 40 fsw. The maximum risk of 4.3% occurs just before surfacing, after which the risk resolves in 10 min.

Unfortunately, the accuracy of the risk estimates of Figures F6 and F7 is uncertain, because human oxygen exposure data are limited and their results variable. This uncertainty encourages conservative exposure limits, at present, instead of permitting the oxygen exposure to be adjusted continuously such that the estimated risk never exceeds the risk judged to be acceptable. For mixed gas, even less data are available than for pure oxygen, and the potential for carbon dioxide retention introduces further uncertainty, which makes modeling of mixed gas risk even more problematic.

What Are “Safe” Oxygen Exposure Limits?

The choice of “safe” oxygen exposure limits depends upon the risk of convulsions that one is willing to accept. This subjective judgment is rendered all the more difficult because so few data are available from which to estimate risk and because there is so much variability in the response to oxygen exposure. Variability can be due to exercise, carbon dioxide retention, gas analysis error, oxygen set-point control, and susceptibility to oxygen toxicity from inter- and intra-individual differences.

For air or enriched air diving, a maximum exposure limit of 1.2 bar would appear to be conservative while allowing a “cushion” for oxygen partial pressure increases due to unplanned depth excursions. Perhaps 1.4 bar would be acceptable if depth could be carefully controlled.

For air or enriched air diving, a maximum exposure limit of 1.2 bar would appear to be conservative while allowing a “cushion” for oxygen partial pressure increases due to unplanned depth excursions. Perhaps 1.4 bar would be acceptable if depth could be carefully controlled. On the other hand, there are those who testify to diving safely at 1.6 bar. This may well be true, but skepticism is appropriate until these divers document their claims in the form of computer-recorded depth-time profiles with certified breathing mixtures (F5). Denoble et al. (1993) describe a project and data acquisition software which might help to provide such documentation.

For pure oxygen, commercial and scientific experience suggests that at least 30 min of in-water oxygen decompression may be possible at 1.61 bar (20 fsw) with little risk of CNS toxicity. Experimental data (F4) also suggest a low risk at 1.76 bar (25 fsw), but a small depth excursion can cause large increases in oxygen pressure. Pure oxygen diving at depths below 20 fsw is more hazardous.



Improvements in our ability to manage oxygen exposure are expected as basic studies illuminate the fundamental biochemistry and physiology, as additional exposure data become available, and as statistical modeling methods develop. Basic studies have already led to pharmacological methods for extending oxygen exposure in mice, but further work is needed before such methods are applied to humans. The diving community itself can provide some of the necessary exposure data should it adopt a rigorous approach to data collection.

Statistical modeling and computer tracking of oxygen exposure may eventually lead to guidelines for variable oxygen partial pressures to supplement single stage oxygen limits (F3). A particularly important advance that might eliminate much of the current unpredictability would be a mouth-piece sensor for measuring end-inspired and end-expired carbon dioxide. In the meantime, a patient and conservative approach to oxygen exposure management is appropriate to minimize the frequency of mishaps such as those of the past year.

Richard Vann performing a Flicker Test. Courtesy of Dick Vann / DAN Archives.

Additional Recources: 

Underwater Physiology VIII. Eds. A.J. Bachrach and M.M. Matzen. UMS, Inc., Bethesda.

Butler F K Jr., and Thalmann E D 1986. Undersea Biomed. Res. 13(2): 193-223. Clark J M 1974. The toxicity of oxygen. Am. Rev. Resp. Dis. 110:40-50.

Clark J M 1993. The physiology and medicine of diving, 4th edn., pp. 121-169. Ed. P.B. Bennett and D.H.Elliott. London: W.B. Saunders.

Donald K 1992. Oxygen and the Diver. The SPA Ltd. Worcs.

Proceedings of repetitive diving workshop. M.A. Lang and R.D. Vann (eds.). American Academy of Underwater Sciences. AAUS DSP-RDW-02-92. Pp. 45-54. Decompression in surface-based diving. Eds. I. 

Nashimoto and E.H. Lanphier. 36th UHMS Workshop. Pub. No. 73(DEC)6/15/87. Pp. 90-100.

Lanphier E H, Dwyer j V 1954. NEDU Report 11 -54.

Lanphier E H 1955. NEDU Report 7-55. Lanphier E H (Editor). 1982. 

Undersea Medical Society Publication Number 52WS (RC) 1-25-82.

Lanphier E H 1992. The story of CO2 build-up. aquaCorps j. 3(1): 67-69. Technical Diver 1992. 3(2): 2-10. NOAA Diving Manual 1979, 1991 2nd edn., 3rd edn. U.S. Department of Commerce, December 1979.

Oury T D, Ho Y S, Piantadosi C A, Crapo J D 1992. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 89: 9715- 9719.

Piantadosi C A, Clinton R L, Thalmann E D 1979. Undersea Biomed. Res. 6: 347-356. Schwartz H J C 1984. NEDU Report 1 3-84. U.S. Navy Diving Manual, Change 1, Tables 9-20 and 13-1.

Vann R D 1988. Oxygen toxicity risk assessment. Final Report on ONR Contract N00014-87-C-0283. 

The Physiology and Medicine of Diving, 4th edn., pp. 376-432. Ed. P.B. Bennett and D.H. Elliott. London: W.B. Saunders. Warkander D E, Norfleet W T, Nagasawa G K, Lundgren C E G. 1990. Undersea Biomed. Res. 17(6): 515-523.

Dr. Vann passed away on 17 APRIL 2020. See: Richard D. Vann: Legendary researcher and champion of dive safety by Frauke Tillmans, Ph.D., and Petar Denoble, M.D., D.Sc.


Be A Part of History: To access our treasure trove of dive history and become a member, visit us at: www.HDS.org. We are also on Facebook: Historical Diving Society USA

Latest Features

Shitwrecks

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.

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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?” 

Hmm…

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

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, bardophotographic.com


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

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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