Smart Glasses, Underwater Bikes Move Navy Divers Forward

By Katie Lange
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

Can you imagine riding a stationary bike for four hours, underwater? That’s what divers at the Navy Experimental Diving Unit do on a regular basis: Test equipment used in U.S. military missions throughout the world. In fact, you know what – I don’t even need to explain it. Just watch this awesome video to see what they do:


Video by Marine Corps Sgt. Andrew Tech

The NEDU is part of the Naval Surface Warfare Center at the Naval Support Activity complex in Panama City, Florida. They work on some amazing things, like ways to prevent decompression sickness by analyzing deep-diving conditions in an ocean simulation facility. These technologies continue to move the Force of the Future forward in a constantly evolving technological age.

Navy diver Petty Officer 2nd Class Tucker Ludy inspects the dive helmet on Navy diver Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessie Stiglbauer before a murky water dive at the Naval Support Activity in Panama City, Florida, July 14, 2016. Ludy and Stiglbauer are assigned to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division Dive Locker. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

Navy diver Petty Officer 2nd Class Tucker Ludy inspects the dive helmet on Navy diver Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessie Stiglbauer before a murky water dive at the Naval Support Activity in Panama City, Florida, July 14, 2016. Ludy and Stiglbauer are assigned to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division Dive Locker. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

Check out that standard-issue dive helmet above. Lots of gadgets, right? The picture below, however, looks a little different.

A Marine wears a prototype dive helmet with the Diver Augmented Vision Display at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at the Naval Support Activity in Panama City, Florida, July 14, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

A Marine wears a prototype dive helmet with the Diver Augmented Vision Display at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, July 14, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

That’s because inside it, there’s the Diver Augmented Vision Display – night vision-style smart classes that are being developed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center. Here’s what they’ll look like in the darkness of deep water:

A light illuminates a prototype dive helmet with the Diver Augmented Vision Display at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at the Naval Support Activity in Panama City, Florida, July 14, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

A light illuminates a prototype dive helmet with the DAVD at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, July 14, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

Here’s the side-by-side difference from the prototype to current dive helmets:

A prototype dive helmet with the Diver Augmented Vision Display, left, provides a comparison view to an unmodified dive helmet at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division at the Naval Support Activity in Panama City, Florida, July 15, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

A prototype dive helmet with the DAVD, left, provides a comparison view to an unmodified dive helmet at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, July 15, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

One of the DoD’s reporters, Amaani Lyle, recently visited the unit and learned all about the DAVD, so I’ll let her explain it to you more in depth at this link.

In October, the Navy is set to begin in-water testing on the DAVD in low-visibility scenarios. Watch how it works and how it’ll help here:


Video by Petty Officer 2nd Class Glenn Slaughter

The technology wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for dedicated service members like Navy diver Petty Officer 1st Class Greg Early, who works at the NEDU, testing new dive equipment before it can be approved for service member use. “I do what I do because I want to save lives,” Early said. “Diver safety is paramount.”

Navy diver Petty Officer 1st Class Greg Early poses for a photo in a pressure chamber he uses to test diving equipment for the Navy Experimental Diving Unit at the Naval Support Activity in Panama City, Florida, July 13, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

Navy diver Petty Officer 1st Class Greg Early poses for a photo in a pressure chamber he uses to test diving equipment for the NEDU, July 13, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

Then there are guys like Navy Lt. (Dr.) Jonathan Casey Brown, who work to ensure diver safety and readiness. The test divers often go into a chamber that simulates extreme water pressures and temperatures – like a depth of 2,250 feet of sea water – which can cause serious decompression sickness. Brown and his team at the NEDU focus on understanding, treating and researching that.

Navy Lt. (Dr.) Jonathan Casey Brown, medical physician and dive medical officer at Navy Experimental Diving Unit, Naval Support Activity in Panama City, Florida, poses outside the ocean simulation facility that mimics pressurized ocean conditions at the NEDU, July 13, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

Navy Lt. (Dr.) Jonathan Casey Brown, medical physician and dive medical officer at NEDU, poses outside the ocean simulation facility that mimics pressurized ocean conditions, July 13, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

And then, of course, there are the brave divers themselves who do the testing.

Navy diver Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Fenn enters the water for training in murky water at the Naval Support Activity Panama City in Panama City, Florida, July 14, 2016. Fenn is assigned to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division Dive Locker. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

Navy diver Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Fenn enters the water for training in murky water at the Naval Support Activity, July 14, 2016. Fenn is assigned to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division Dive Locker. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

It’s definitely a difficult job to do. But it looks like they have a little fun while doing it!

A diver walks on a picnic table placed at the bottom of a Navy Experimental Diving Unit pool at the Naval Support Activity in Panama City, Florida, July 13, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

A diver walks on a picnic table placed at the bottom of a NEDU pool at the Naval Support Activity, July 13, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

That’s what I call a challenging but entertaining career!

*NEDU dive and drone footage courtesy of Navy Diver 1st Class Mariano Lorde

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