The weird, dangerous, isolated life of the saturation diver

The divers spend their waking hours either under hundreds of feet of water on the ocean floor or squeezed into an area the size of a restaurant booth.

For 52 straight days this winter, Shannon Hovey woke up in the company of five other men in a metal tube, 20 feet long and seven feet in diameter, tucked deep inside a ship in the Gulf of Mexico. He retrieved his breakfast from a hatch (usually eggs), read a briefing for the day, and listened for a disembodied voice to tell him when it was time to put on a rubber suit and get to work. Life in the tube was built around going through these same steps day after day… while trying not to think about the fact that any unintended breach in his temporary metal home would mean a fast, agonizing death.

Hovey works in one of the least known, most dangerous, and, frankly, most bizarre professions on Earth. He is a saturation diver—one of the men (just about all have been men*) who do construction and demolition work at depths up to 1,000 feet or more below the surface of the ocean… read more >

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