as of 06/06/13
All current production DESCO helmets
Commercial and Pool Cleaning Masks
Light Duty Diving Outfit
DESCO Two Diver Telephone and available communications options
Third party dry suits
sold by DESCO
Composite Beat Engel Demand Helmet
as of 06/06/13
& Viking price lists.
Product warnings and
What gear it takes to dive.
What goes into making a diving helmet
Real or Replica?
Features of the various helmet models
Magazine or News articles related to diving.
Links to online diving videos.
How DESCO started
Those who built DESCO
DESCO Product Information
General product history. Catalogs, significant orders, etc.
DESCO A, B, C Rebreathers Recirculating Helmets
SCUBA Lungs, Water Skis, and Miscellaneous Water Sports Products
DESCO company photos
and photos from our archives
Commercial Diving Photos supplied by customers
Classic equipment &
hobby diving photos
Photos of helmets from
Photos of equipment in museums
Photos from some of
our repair projects
DESCO Historical Item Collection
Miscellaneous Photos, Old diver and/or equipment photos
U.S. Navy Standard Diver's Knife
Authentic. Not a reproduction. This knife is still purchased by the U.S. Navy from DESCO.
Probably the most useful tool of all is the US Navy Divers Knife (often erroneously referred to as a Mark V knife). This knife has a Brass cylindrical sheath, a threaded hilt which allows the knife to be screwed into the sheath, and a double edged blade. The knife itself is composed of four parts, the blade, the Brass threaded hilt, the Maple handle, and the Brass handle nut. The blade is tool grade Steel with a saw tooth on one side and cutting edge on the other. The handle nut (or button nut) and hilt are machined from free cutting Brass. The handle is clear Maple and dip coated with Spar varnish.
This design was adopted by the U.S. Navy for a couple of reasons. The blades were prone to being broken when used for prying. If the handle were an integral part of the blade the entire unit would have to be discarded. Being able to dismantle the knife permitted blade replacement rather than scrapping all the other usable parts.
It was found by the Navy that divers often had difficulty sheathing a knife in a conventional flat sheath. This led to the knife being dropped and lost. The cylindrical sheath makes it easy to insert the knife and to lock it in place. With this method the knife is rotated a third of a turn and it seats into the sheath.
The sheath is a Red Brass casting. It is fitted with a leather belt which is looped around the waist strap of the diver's weightbelt. There is a drain hole in the bottom of the sheath to allow water in to maintain negative buoyancy, and to let the water back out on the surface.
The DESCO U. S. Navy Diver's Knife is made according to USN specifications currently in effect. It has been in constant production since we began war production in 1942. The basic design has been unchanged since 1927. The Navy changed the drawing number in 1947. These are the plans we still use to make the Diver's Knife.
Fittings and valves of various sizes and types are necessary to supply breathing gas to the diver. The U.S. Navy standard hose in WWII was 1/2" I.D. with 1 1/16" - 17 threads. This standard was adopted by commercial diving as surplus government equipment found its way to civilian use. Low volume helmets can function well with a 3/8" I.D. hose and the fittings are usually 9/16" - 18 Oxygen (O2) fittings or JIC. The Air Hat uses the O2 fitting. Valves to control airflow, number of divers, and mixed gas are still used.
29003 Valve, Air Control U.S. Navy Type
21240 Manifold – Three Way
29039 Valve, U. S. Navy Non-Return
23144 Valve Adapter, Helium Helmet/Air Control Valve
59091 Valve. Non-Return Mask & Air Hat
USN Air Control Valve 3 Way Manifold Helium Adapter
Navy Non-Return Valve Air Hat & Mask Non Return Valve
Adapters & Fittings
23031 Adapter, Chinese Air Inlet to Navy ½” Air hose
23057 Adapter, Chinese Air Inlet to O2 Male
29128 Adapter, Female Navy x O2 Male
29129 Adapter, Male Navy x O2 Female
29130F Adapter, ½” Hose Barb to O2 Female Fitting
29130M Adapter, ½” Hose Barb to O2 Male Fitting
29289 Adapter, ¾” NPT Female x 1 1/16” – 17 NS
29390 Adapter, Female Navy x JIC 6
29192 Coupling, Double Female Navy to Navy
23125 Coupling, Double Male Navy to Navy
23064 Fitting, Double-Barbed Hose Splicer ½” Hose
23065 Fitting, Air Hose, Female Navy ½” Hose
23066 Fitting, Air Hose, Male Navy ½” Hose
29210 Fitting, Male Navy x O2 Male
61355 Fitting, Female O2 Nut w/Barb for 3/8” I.D. Hose
61356 Fitting, Male O2 x ¼” NPT Male
61357 Fitting, Double Male O2 Coupling
61358 Fitting, O2 Male x 1/2” NPT Male
61359 Fitting, ¼” Hose Splicer
61260 Fitting, 3/8” Hose Splicer
23005 Reducer “S”
23002 Reducer “T”
23126 Reducer “M” 1 1/16”- 17 Male to ½” NPT Male
Abbreviations for fittings below:
M = Male thread, F = Female thread, Navy = 1 1/16" - 17 thread, O2 = 9/16" - 18 thread
F Navy to M O2 F Navy to F O2 F Navy to JIC M Navy to F O2 M Navy to M O2
T Reducer S Reducer M Reducer
Double Male Coupling Double Female Coupling
Adapters for foreign helmets.
F Russian F Chinese F Chinese F Chinese
to M Navy to M Navy to F O2 to M O2
F Navy to1/2" Hose End M Navy to 1/2" Hose End Double 1/2" Hose Barb
59061F Jetting Nozzle
59099 Jetting Nozzle Hose Adapter (2 ½” NSTF x 2 ½” NPSM)
Tools include wingnut wrenches (Navy, Sponge & Morse type), Helium helmet canister wrench, T Slot wrench for old style Navy Non-return valves, and a tool bag.
Wing Nut Wrench Wing Nut Wrench Wing Nut Wrench T Slot Wrench Canister Wrench Tool Bag
Navy Sponge Morse type
Diver's Shoes provide additional ballast weight to the diver where it can be of the most benefit. With a classic heavy diving outfit the dress (suit) does not form fit the diver. There is excess room in the dress which can be inflated to adjust the diver's buoyancy. If a diver should become inverted air pressure will build in the lower torso and legs of the dress and cannot be vented. The diver will blow up (suit balloons out) and shoot to the surface. A rapid uncontrolled ascent will usually cause a case of the bends. Having weight low on the diver reduces the chances of the diver inverting. The soles also give the diver better traction on the bottom.
Standard Divers Shoes
Diver's Shoes are made with a cast Brass sole or a cast Lead sole. A Maple inner sole is bolted to the metal sole. The upper is screwed and tacked to the Maple sole. Originally the uppers were leather or heavy canvas. Standard DESCO shoes have a Cordura upper. A cast Brass toe cap protects the diver's feet and adds additional weight. The shoes are laced with heavy sash cord and a strap. Lightweight shoes weight approximately 25lbs. per pair, while the Heavyweight shoes weigh approximately 40lbs per pair.
Lightweight Shoes with Rubber Over Soles
Awhile back a U.S. Navy diver contacted us with a request. There was a problem with the Brass shoe soles damaging the non-skid deck surfaces on the ships they work from. He asked if we could develop a rubber over sole for the shoes. After trying a few different adhesives we hit upon a combination that works well. The diver reported to us they are getting about 300 dives out of a pair of rubber soles before they are worn out enough to require replacement. The rubber over soles are only available on the Brass soles.
White Canvas Shoes
We offer the shoes in a white canvas upper for diving enthusiasts looking for a more historically accurate look. They are available in either light or heavy weights.
Originally divers shoe uppers were made of leather. During World War II canvas uppers became standard as they were quicker and easier to produce, and were less expensive. Because of requests by classic equipment enthusiasts DESCO has reintroduced leather shoes to our catalog. Our leather subcontractor is making them available to us in leather colors he stocks. The historically correct color is Black. Color choices are Black, Brown, or Tan.
DESCO Diving Shoes
29077 Shoes, Diving, U.S. Navy, Heavyweight (Cordura Uppers)
29077C Shoes, Diving, U.S. Navy, Heavyweight (White Canvas Uppers)
29077L Shoes, Diving, U.S. Navy, Heavyweight (Leather Uppers)
29078 Shoes, Diving, U.S. Navy, Lightweight (Cordura Uppers)
29078C Shoes, Diving, U.S. Navy, Lightweight (White Canvas Uppers)
29078L Shoes, Diving, U.S. Navy, Lightweight (Leather Uppers)
29078RS Shoes, Diving, U.S. Navy, Lightweight w/ Rubber Over Soles (Cordura Uppers)
A diver in heavy gear not only needs to be negatively buoyant enough to sink, but also to be able to remain in place at a jobsite, or walk along the bottom. The helmet and dress (with modest inflation) will displace enough water to make the diver float. The shoes pictured above alone can't provide enough weight to weigh down the diver enough. Weights attached to a belt add the needed additional ballast.
Originally weightbelts were made from leather. Over time the leather would soften and wear till the belt became unusable. Newer belts are made from 5 ply reinforced rubber belting material which is very similar to the conveyor belts in grocery store checkout lanes. It is very strong and moisture resistant. These belts stand up much longer than the old leather ones. The front and back weights on Navy & commercial style belts are fitted with loops and buckles for shoulder straps. The "blank" weights can be removed to set the weight of the belt when less than the full weight is needed. Heavyweight belts have a double buckle setup for fastening around the waist, while the Lightweight belt uses a quick release buckle.
DESCO Pocket Weightbelt
The pocket weightbelt is a variation of a belt invented during the war. At that time Navy divers would use rifle cartridge belts with lead weights inserted into the cartridge clip pockets. DESCO's pocket weightbelt is a purpose made belt derived from that idea.
Cuff Rings Cuff Expanders Rubber Cuffs
The cuff items above facilitate making a watertight seal at the diver's wrists. The rubber cuffs are glued to the ends of the dress sleeves and are designed to squeeze around the diver's wrists. Naturally this constriction makes getting the diver's hands through them to dress and undress difficult. The Cuff Expanders slide in on either side of the cuff opening and allow the tender to spread the cuff. Cuff rings allow for the attachment and removal of gloves or mitts without permanently gluing them on.
Dress Clamp Helmet Cushion Hand Light
The dress clamp was originally used to close the lightweight back entry dress. It found a second life as a tool to aid in making loops in towing hawsers. A U.S. Coast Guardsman came across one in a antique shop and purchased it for this purpose. It worked so well others began to buy them.
The helmet cushion is worn under the dress collar to pad the diver's shoulders from the breastplate.
The Diver's Hand Light is a hand made waterproof flashlight made of all Brass. Having been superceded by smaller, lighter, and brighter light sources it still is desired for its classic historical look.