Dan Wilson and the 400-Foot Dive

Opening reception for an exhibit showcasing gear from the world’s first commercial oxy-helium dive.

When: Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, 5:30 p.m.

Where: S.B. Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Wy., #190, Santa Barbara

Cost: Free - $5

Age limit: Not available

Categories: Art (opening)


In 1962 off Santa Cruz Island, Dan Wilson successfully completed a dive to 400 feet breathing a mixture of helium and oxygen. The dive was the catalyst for the expansion of deep-water mixed gas diving in the commercial diving industry. At the time, all diving outside the U.S. Navy was done with divers breathing compressed air – most of it at less than 100 feet. The only place commercial divers worked routinely in deep water was the Santa Barbara Channel, where oil companies were drilling in 200-250 feet of water. Wilson thought that with helium he could extend the bottom time at 200-240 feet from the 20 minutes on air to a full hour. He needed to demonstrate a dive to gain the trust of the oil companies. He hired Santa Barbara Radiator Shop to modify his Japanese abalone helmet and with his new makeshift equipment Dan made his demonstration descent. Within days, Phillips Petroleum decide to give Dan his new company, General Offshore Diver, a chance for diving support on the drilling vessel CUSS-I. Against considerable odds, he and his team succeeded. Two years later, General Offshore became the nucleus of the world’s first industrial diving company.

A model with the original gear is part of the exhibit. Dan Wilson’s son, Dan Wilson Jr. will be the honorary guest at the reception.

Cost: Free (members), $5 (non-members).
RSVP: (805) 962-8404 x115

Phone: 805-962-8404

Event posted Oct. 14, 2012
Last updated Oct. 14, 2012


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Vaud and the Villains

This 19 piece 1930s New Orleans orchestra and cabaret will ... Read More