Morse US Navy Mark V Helium 1971 - Amazing Original!
By far the most requested and popular diving helmet we handle is the US Navy Mark V. There were only four companies that made the famed model starting in 1916. One of the original two companies was A.J. Morse - later renamed Morse Diving Equipment and the firm who produced this particular helmet.
What many people do not know is that starting in the 1930's the need for extreme deep dives necessitated the need for a modified Mark V - the mixed gas or helium Mark V model. These helmets were only needed in extreme situations by highly trained divers. With the use of a large brass canister on the back containing a CO2 absorbent and a helium - oxygen mixture divers could work at depths past the typical 100' to 150' limit of a standard Mark V helmet. This helmet did however earn the nickname "Widow Maker". While safe, if anything went wrong or there was a small leak - things went very bad very quickly for the diver.
Compared to the standard Mark V - only a small number of these mixed gas Mark V's were ever made. Typically only the US Government ordered this helmet due to their expense and need for divers to go to extreme depths. Jobs such as submarine salvage or even secret operations is when these were employed.
During the early 1970's the US Navy was ordering helmets like this to be used on their new ASR ships - (Amphibious Submarine Rescue). This specific helmet was ordered by the US Navy according to original Morse Diving Equipment records! The helmet was made at the Boston factory in September 1971 and then delivered to the Naval Supply Center located in Oakland, CA in October of 1971. This helmet was part of an order of 4 that were sent at the same time. From there, we are not sure where the helmet was sent. What we do know is that this helmet is probably the finest example of an original, completely unaltered helium Mark V we have ever handled or seen!
As you can see in the photos, the helmet retains all of its original tinning. It would be a safe bet to classify this helmet as New Old Stock (NOS), meaning it appears to possibly have never been used! In this case the photos above tell the story of just how nice and impressive this helmet is. If you are considering a investment grade helmet for your collection or a very special gift for the holidays this one is without a doubt fits the bill!