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Navy names new million gallon training pool for diving great Bob Barth

September 20, 2010

Reporter: Meredith TerHaar

He may not be a household name, but in the diving community Bob Barth is a living legend. On Wednesday the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center bestowed Barth with an honor befitting his contributions to the advancement of ground-breaking diving techniques. The Navy named their brand new 1 million gallon training pool in his honor.

Panama City Beach- He may not be a household name, but in the diving community Bob Barth is a living legend. On Wednesday the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center bestowed Barth with an honor befitting his contributions to the advancement of ground-breaking diving techniques. The Navy named their brand new 1 million gallon training pool in his honor.

Still, Retired Navy Warrant Officer Bob Barth downplays his achievements. “Nothing that Navy divers do is one guy. There is always a whole bunch of people involved in it,” said Barth.

In the 1960’s Barth was in on the birth of experimental diving. He was the only diver to be on all the Genesis and SeaLab programs. And one of just four divers who lived for 11 days in the SeaLab capsule in 190 feet of water near Bermuda in 1964.

Through Barth’s efforts, saturation diving became a commercial and military success. “He is the dean of saturation diving to all saturation divers,” said Dave Sullivan, a member of the DAWGs, which stands for Diving Association of Wise Guys.

He also helped prove humans could live and work underwater for extended periods of time. “What they were doing from 1960 through 69 was cutting edge hyperbaric tests and training and procedural development that was really on the edge,” said Mark Helmkamp, a former commander of NDST.

This elite group of Navy divers even wears shirts to honor the 61-year-old. “If you define courage as being scared out of your wits and still getting the job done…these were guys who did some deep dives in very very cold dark waters. He was always there and he volunteered throughout the entire program. He is an amazing guy.” They call him the “godfather” of saturation diving. “When you are recognized by your peers it’s a good day,” reflected Barth.

One of Barth’s disciples at Wednesday’s event was retired Navy diver Rudy Boesch from Season 1 of the “Survivor” reality series.

The Navy is placing a brass plaque with Barth’s picture and biography in the upper level of the new facility to remind new students of the courage and drive it takes to become a Navy diver.

http://www.wjhg.com/news/headlines/103017149.html

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