Off San Diego, CA Aquanaut Dies, Feb 1969
FATAL DIVE WRONG, AQUANAUT CLAIMS.
San Diego, Calif. (AP) - One of the aquanauts in Sealab 3, the Navy's deep-sea living experiment, says it was wrong to order the dive in which a fellow crewman died.
A board of inquiry into the death of aquanaut BERRY L. CANNON, 33, also was told of a series of mishaps and what the project chief, Cmdr. J. M. Tomsky, called instances of tampering with equipment.
There will "almost certainly" be an investigation, a navy spokesman said. The current inquiry deals only with CANNON'S death.
The aquanaut died Feb. 17, minutes after leaving a personnel transfer capsule in an effort to stop helium leaks in the Sealab habitat on the ocean floor 610 feet deep.
"The dive should never have been made," the investigators were told Sunday by aquanaut Richard Blackburn, 30, who retrieved CANNON. "We were all pushed to a point where mistakes were inevitable. Our bodies had not adjusted to depth ... We had aches and pains in our joints ... Our mental and physical dexterity was affected by the cold."
An autopsy said CANNON died of carbon dioxide poisoning. A breathing apparatus which may have been his was later found to be lacking chemicals needed to filter carbon dioxide.
Tomsky said that as the surviving aquanauts were undergoing decompression "on two separate occasions and oxygen valve in the emergency breathing system was opened. Then a third apparent tampering with the valve occurred - the valve was partially cracked open."
Delaware County Daily Times Chester Pennsylvania 1969-03-03