The Northwest Dive History Association will be holding their annual Fall Event on October 10, 2015 in Olympia, Washington. Anyone interested in attending is welcome and encouraged to attend.

The Northwest Dive History Organization’s mission is to “Preserve the History of Scuba Diving in Our North Pacific Region.” The organization hopes to establish a museum to display vintage diving equipment, photos, magazines, books and artifacts that define our diving history, and offer educational programs, and a traveling museum featuring the history and evolution of diving in our region. Anyone interested is welcomed and encouraged to join the organization and contribute to the mission.

Tugboat Annie's Restaurant in Olympia, WA

Tugboat Annie’s Restaurant in Olympia, WA

The upcoming annual event takes place on Saturday, October 10 from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM at the Conference Room at Tugboat Annies Restaurant in Olympia. Registration for the full-day event is $25.00, which includes lunch.

On Sunday, divers will also have the opportunity to dive in a vintage Mark V dive or modern Superlite divers helmet. The dives will take place at the Niqually Marine Training Center. Cost is $110 for the Mark V and will be led by Tom Landry. The cost for diving the Superlite is $80 and will be taught by veteran diver Dennis Lucia.

U.S. Navy Mark V diving helmet

U.S. Navy Mark V diving helmet

The agenda for the event is as follows:


Tom Hemphill, Chairman
Introduction and Association Update

Floyd Holcom, Board Member
Update on book for Arcadia Publishing.  Floyd and Tom are on contract with Arcadia Publishing to co-author a book on the History of Diving on the Oregon Coast.  This is a pictorial history book, and if we do a good job, the publisher is interested in a book on the history of diving in Washington State.

Chris Constantine, Editor/Publisher of California Diver Magazine
Member and diver communication with the web site,, newsletters, Facebook and other social media.

Harry Truitt, Northwest Diving Historian and owner of Lighthouse Dive Centers
Harry has toured the Seattle Maritime Event Center where the 2016 Northwest Diving Show will be held March 12 & 13.  He will provide a good overview of the facility and meeting rooms where we will be able to conduct special presentations.

Spence Campbell, Northwest Diving Historian and recipient of the Northwest Diving Pioneer Award in 2014
Spence will share with us the value of this special award and an overview of the people that have received this award in the past.

Board Members Barry Dunford & Tom Hemphill at the 2015 Seattle Scuba Show

Board Members Barry Dunford & Tom Hemphill at the 2015 Seattle Scuba Show


David McLean & John Ratliff are teaming up to share a whole bunch of history on the development of buoyancy compensators.  Here is a hint – buoyancy compensators were experimented with long before the age of Scuba as we know it today.

David McLean Introduction:
David’s college degree is in Marine Archaeology.  In the early 1970s, he became interested in developing a better way to control buoyancy so he could do his work underwater.  He eventually went to work as an engineer at Sea Quest for seven years designing BCs during the time that a lot of experimenting was taking place in BC system designing.  After his time with Sea Quest, David worked with Mares getting them established in the US, and later with Scuba Pro and Soniform.  David has a lot of history of BC development to share and he will present an interesting slide show for us.

John Ratliff Introduction:

John began diving in 1959 in Oregon before any type of BC was being used.  His early diving training and experience led him to become a USAF Pararescueman, participating in rescues and training in Okinawa, Korea, Bermuda, Florida, and Vietnam.  John was a member of the rescue forces for Apollo 13 (responsible as an 55th ARRSq aircrew member for the first minute of its flight), and made a number of parascuba jumps on the mockup of the Apollo capsule to practice placing the Apollo floatation collar around the capsule.  John earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for a rescue mission in North Vietnam, whereby two pilots were rescued from behind enemy lines when stationed with the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron at DaNang, RVN.

John worked with Bill Herter, Deep Sea Bill’s (Newport, Oregon) when Bill developed some of the first BCDs, building them into the back of his custom wet suits.  John patented a BCD he calls the ParaSea BC in 1983, patent #4,623,316. which is probably the most expensive BC in history as no one bought it, but John has been diving it ever since.

Jon has has published several articles in diving magazines, and he’s presented research papers on the subject at diving symposiums.  He also has a lot of unique history to share.

For more information and to register for the October 10 event, please contact Tom Hemphill by clicking here.