Can we live underwater? The Precontinent project.

by spotmydive

Commander Cousteau and his missions Précontinent I, II et III

As the whole world want to conquered space, Commander Cousteau is convinced that oceans will be the future of the humanity and decided to colonize the underwater world.

His mission Précontinent I

In 1962, the first cylindrical underwater house 5 m long and 2.5 m large, named « Précontinent ONE » was immersed off the island of Frioui in the Mediterranean Sea at 10 m deep. Despite its small size, this underwater shelter didn’t lack of anything. Shower, television, radio and even a library was installed inside. Two aquanauts, Albert Falco and Claude Wesly, are going to live there during a week breathing pressurized air. Every day they go out for mission at 25 meters deep, in order to study the behavior of wildlife and build a farm underwater. This experience is a success.

Précontinent II

One year later the experience continue but this time in the red sea, off Soudan. This time it will last 1 month at 10 meters deep. The base is a real town with four different rooms, a laboratory, a warehouse for equipment and a hangar for underwater scooter. Five aquanauts Raymond Vaissière, Pierre Guilbert, Albert Falco, Pierre Vannoni and Claude Wesly lived 24 hours a day on it. At 25 m deep, there is another shelter where Raymond Kientzy and André Portelatine are going to stay for a week. Those two aquanauts, breathe a mix of oxygen and helium and have daily mission going to 110 meters some time.
Still a success! A documentary is made about this incredible experience: « A world without sun » 1964. Nowadays you can dive there to imagine what those explorers experienced.

Précontinent III

Cousteau’s team continue the adventure in 1965, in the seas of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat south of France, at 100 meters deep. Six aquanauts are going to participate, André Laban, Philippe Cousteau, Rollet, Bonici, Coll and Omer. They will live during 1 month in a steel sphere inspired by Tintin’s rocket. Atmosphere only has 2% of oxygen. Helium and pressure affect the everyday life. Voices are deformed, water does not boil and food don’t taste anymore. Aquanauts have trouble to warm up because they dive in a water at 13°. The stay became a nightmare but fortunately, at the end, the six were safe and sound. Thanks to this project a study on gas was made and used during the conquest of space. World understood that work at depth is now possible but not without difficulties.
Unfortunately there is no fourth episode!