|Vocal 4º |
Buenos días a todos:
Como ya sabeis el sábado pasado estaba invitado a participar en la conferencia que organiza anualmente la HDS del Reino Unido, en representación de la HDS España.
La verdad es que no tengo problemas para participar en este tipo de actos, y el inglés se me dá medio bién, por lo que el viernes no estaba nervioso cuando me puse a darle un último repaso a mi presentación.
El problema vino cuando el sábado, al empezar la conferencia, nombraron a algunos de los participantes de años anteriores: Hans Haas, Ian Frasier, Geroge Wookey, James Vorosmati, André Galerne... Durante unos minutos me entraron sudores fríos. Me tranquilizó pensar que no estaba allí por mis méritos como buzo, sino para hablar de la importancia de España en el mundo del buceo, y que yo no era más que el portavoz de nuestra asociación. Intenté hacer la charla lo más amena posible, y creo que lo consegí, dejando el pabellón nacional en buén lugar.
Este texto era mi guión, pero durante la charla fuí añadiendo comentarios sobre las 45 diapositivas del powerpoint que presenté. El resultado final fué mas extenso que el del guión escrito.
Me han llegado algunos mensajes de distintos asistentes con comentarios positivos:
-Delighted to hear you had a good time and many thanks for your fascinating talk. Everyone I spoke to thought it was excellent...
-We met in Birmingham over the weekend. You talk was most interesting...-Hi Antonio, It was great to see you both at Birmingham. Thanks for a very interesting and entertaining presentation...
Espero no haberos aburrido. Un abrazo a todos.
Texto de la conferencia:
Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Navy officers, divers, and friends:
I would like to thank my collegues at the HDS UK for giving me the opportunity to join you in such an important event. I am extremely pleased and honoured to be one of the speakers today.
I must start my presentation by explaining that it should be my friend, mentor and president of the Spanish Historical Diving Society, Mr. Juan Ivars who should be here with you today. He is co-author of the book “Historia del buceo y su desarrollo en España” along with Mr. Tomás Rodriguez. The only reason why I am taking this place is because I am able to communicate in english (and not too well as you will experience during my talk).
Once this point has been made clear, I will speak about diving, about the history of diving, and more precisely, about the history of diving in Spain. Please, bear in mind that the concept of Spain as we know it today, has changed during the course of history, and what once was the biggest empire on earth, started as a roman colony in the Mediterranean.
I shall try to give you all the information on the most relevant events, in chronological order, and you are welcome to interrupt me should you have any questions.
First evidences of the use of divers are shown in 125 B.C. in “The Histories” by Greek author Polybius. It reflects the use of “urinatores” by Roman general Scipio the African, against the Carthaginians which took place in 209 B.C. This is the first full time amphibious military unit that was created.
During the conquer of Seville, in 1.248, admiral Ramón de Bonifaz commanded an important fleet of 18 Spanish vessels against Moorish king Axafat, who was defeated and handed the city’s keys to the Castillian admiral. From this moment the Spanish Navy was formed with its first military regulations. The Fleet started developing its importance, and begun using divers for reconnaissance missions.
In 1372, a Spanish fleet commanded by Ambrosio Bocanegra (22 vessels) defeated the Earl of Pembroke (36 vessels) at la Rochelle, using fire ships (hellburners) and divers. It was the first time that Spanish vessels use embarked artillery
The Nao Victoria, a Spanish carrack was the first ship to successfully circumnavigate the world (1519-1522). During its stay at the isle of Tadore, in the Malaku islands, the king of Tadore sent 8 local divers to locate hull damages in order to repair the ship, not having a suitable harbour or dry dock available. The long haired divers, would dive along the hull of the ship, with their heads nearly in contact with it. Whenever a pull was felt in their long hair, a leak was located. This system enabled quick repair of minor leaks, which were undetectable by other means.
During the XIVth century, given the importance of the Spanish empire and its fleet, being the biggest and most important fleet on the seas, and having ships and vessels sailing all over the world, the “Flota de corso y buceo” (Salvage and Diving fleet) was created. Its original purpose was to recover sunken ships and cargo in the waters of the Bahamas and the gulf of México. It was later given a worldwide scope.
In the city of Toledo, in 1538 the first diving bell was used in Spain, in presence of Emperor Charles V, and over 10.000 spectators. A successful demonstration of recovery of sunken objects was made.
One year later, in 1539, Spanish Navy captain, and engineer, Blasco de Garay who invented the paddleboat, offers his own device to Emperor Charles V to recover sunken ships. A candle was lit inside and it would allow men to comfortably stay underwater. The Emperor forwarded the subject to his privy council, but was not adapted.
During the battle of Mühlberg, in 1547, Emperor Charles V used combat divers to cross the river Elbe, and conquered the German city, as reflected in the work of friar Prudencio de Sandoval “Historia del Emperador Carlos V, Rey de España”.
In the waters of Puerto Rico, in 1550, a 500 ton Spanish galleon, “Santa María de Jesús” was lost during a storm, sinking when colliding with a coral reef. She carried a great treasure of silver, gold, gems and worked items in gold and silver. Her total treasure was valued at 6 million pesos. Whilst divers were recovering its cargo, a mulatto from Cali arrived on his own galleon, and retrieved most of the treasure!
Pedro Juan de Lastanosa, a Spanish mathematician and engineer, explains in his book “Los veintiún libros de los ingenios y de las máquinas” in 1551, a device which consisted of a glass ball (or ceramic with glass windows) with a hole to place over the head of the diver, with a leaded wooden frame around it. He later modified his design, to a barrel type bell, in order to accommodate the entire body of the diver.
Jose Bono, a Spanish inventor, in 1582, obtained a royal grant from king Phillip II, which allow him to recover goods in all the waters of the Empire, using his newly developed vase or bell, giving the crown 10% of his findings. He had demonstrated to the Spanish authorities the feasibility of his bell in the waters of Lisbon, retrieving a few lost anchors.
Jerónimo de Ayanz y Beaumont, a knight of the order of Calatrava, was another Spanish soldier and inventor. Best remembered for the invention of a steam-powered water pump for draining mines, and the first air conditioned machine, and he also designed a surface supplied submarine vessel. More relevant to us was a diving suit which he successfully demonstrated in the waters of the river Pisuerga in the presence of King Phillip II. The diver, with continuous air supply, stayed underwater, at a depth of 9 feet, over an hour. The king, bored with the experiment ordered the trial to end. He had also developed a simple and a double snorkel with purge valves.
Diego de Ufano was a Spanish artillery captain, and in 1613 designed a diving suit which consisted of a hooded vest made of goat’s skin, with a hose reaching to the surface, and a float to keep the end out of the water. Underwater vision was provided by polished horn lenses. The diver wore leaded soles to keep him stable whilst at work.
In 1623 Pedro de Ledesma, the king’s secretary on the Council of the Indies, developed a diving suit, similar to the one of Diego de Ufano, which he claimed was usable down to 25 fathoms (42 metres). He also designed a scissor type dredge and several wreck finding devices.
The Spanish galleons Nuestra Señora de Atocha, and Santa Margarita, sunk in the waters of Florida after a furious storm. Francisco Núñez Melián was King Philip IV of Spain's official ship salvager, thanks to his new invention, a 680-pound bronze diving bell which he had built in la Havana, and provided with seats and windows, recovered in 1626 the majority of the silver, and all the bronze cannons.
The Spanish Bell (also known as Bell of Cadaqués), was developed in 1654 by Andreu Ximenez who was commissioned by Don Juan de Austria (illegitimate son of emperor Charles V) and viceroy of Cataluña, to recover the important cargo of two galleons, la Pelícana and la Anunciata, which had sunk in the waters of Cadaqués, carrying silver and precious stones. Two barges were used to lower the bell over the wrecks, and the slave moorish divers sitting on a bench inside the bell, would proceed with the diving operations. The well known term “la mordida” (bribery) originated when the divers were allowed to keep as many coins as they could keep inside their mouth after a day’s work.
José de Acevedo, salvager of sunken ships, sent a letter to the king of Spain in 1684, stating that he had developed an invention (a diving bell) which allowed the diver to maintain his breath for over an hour, and that he had been contacted by the duke of Marlborough and the duke of Albernado regarding it. They proposed to become partners, but he refused.
The bell of Santander, developed in 1686 by Valentín Noval, is the first bell to offer underwater navigation by the use of a propeller. It was built in wood, with iron rings surrounding it, and with an interior leather lining to make it waterproof. The bell was constructed and tested but became unstable when brought up to the surface and onto the ship’s deck, due to the size of the propeller, which was 3,5 metres in diameter. This is the first evidence of the use of a propeller. It was never used again
Ten years later, in 1696, Antonio Verde built a diving bell and was commissioned by the duke of Albuquerque, and field marshal Obruyn, to recover the cargo, mainly silver ingots, from the wreck of the galleon La Viuda, in the waters of Sanlucar de Barrameda. However, only lead ballast was found.
Alejandro Durant, baron of Marzabrat, designed the first pneumatic diving suit, with two hoses (intake and exhaust), and two bellows to provide air to the diver, glass lenses for underwater vision, and a spear. The continuous air supply allowed the diver to reach 12 fathoms wearing the necessary ballast.
In 1733 Manuel Gispert designed in la Coruña a new snorkel, which allowed the diver to have surface communications. He called his invention the Gispert gun.
Louis Des Balbes de Berton de Crillon, duke of Crillon, and Mahón, plans to mine the ships anchored around Gibraltar and organised a group of divers for this purpose. It is the first combat diver unit in the Spanish Navy.
The 20th of February of 1787 (this year we celebrated the 225th anniversary) set a landmark in the history of diving. The Spanish Navy created the first diving schools in the world. HM King Charles III signed the decree which established the conditions for three diving schools (one on each maritime department) and to provide training to ten boys (aged 14 to 18) to become divers, on a regular basis.
The salvage of the ship San Pedro de Alcántara, which sunk near Peniche, in Portugal, showed the need for such schools. Although the majority of the money and cargo was recovered, the salvage operation reflected a need for more, properly trained divers. During this operation, all Navy divers (even those imprisoned) were used, as well as some civilian and even foreigners. The diversity of their origin, and their poor training was evident.
From now on, all divers would receive standardized training in areas such as naval construction, rigging, salvage, underwater repairs and use of underwater explosives. The training would be directed by the most senior diver of each naval arsenal. Such was the importance of divers that Navy regulations stated that during action stations, divers were to remain in the infirmary assisting the doctors or carry forward ammunition to the guns, but were to remain safe until needed.
A valencian inventor, Vicente Ferrer, built his “Conqueror of the seas” which consisted of a copper ball, opened on the bottom, with a leather skirt acting as a water tight seal. It also had openings for the arms, equally provided with leather seals, and a viewfinder or porthole at face level. A long metallic tube connected it to the surface. Two metallic rings were used to tie ropes which were held from the surface, and maintained the device in position. Each time he recovered treasure from the bottom, he exclaimed “We succeeded thanks to the help of the Virgin Mary, and to the devil for placing it there”. Mixing the Virgin Mary and the devil was not approved by the Inquisition and therefore he was sentenced to death!
An architect from Cádiz, Pedro Angel de Albizu, obtained a royal grant for his invention of an underwater machine in 1793. The grant established that he would hand the crown all cannons and anchors he would recover, and keep everything else for himself.
Two years later, in 1799, the Spanish Navy master diver Manuel Sánchez de la Campa claimed to be the author of the invention patented by Albizu. The subject was taken to court, and the lawsuit finished six years later. De la Campa was awarded all privileges previously given to Albizu. The machine was made a mandatory piece of equipment in all Spanish harbours.
Pedro Padret, in 1801, requested to try his diving suit in Cartagena, to the Navy’s Commander in Chief. According to his description, a diver could work underwater, place explosives, remove rocks and obstacles from harbours. The Navy did not approve his design, but encouraged him to further development.
In 1825, a 4.000 kg bell with twelve portholes was used by Isaac Dickson, on his ship Enterprise, in the waters of the bay of Rande. Three anchors, twenty five cannons and a water fountain dated 1621 were recovered.
A wood sphere to be used as a submarine is built in 1831 by Cervo. He imagined that the spherical shape would withstand the water pressure, but did not take into consideration that the wood used in its construction would not. He tried his submarine in Barcelona, but he did not return to the surface!
A salvager called Gregorio Dominguez received a royal grant in 1834 to salvage the waters surrounding the arsenal de la Carraca (Cádiz) using his own diving bell and divers. We do not have data of his type of bell, but we suppose his bell was surface supplied by bellows.
The first Siebe helmets were bought by the Spanish Navy in 1847, and arrived at el Ferrol on the ship Jorge Juan. An invoice describing an air pump, two suits, one helmet, shoes, hoses, woolly underwear, and spare parts plus shipping from London added up to £169, 11 shillings and 4 pence. From this moment, all Navy divers were trained with this new equipment.
Cosme García, a Spanish inventor, performed successful trials with his submarine in Barcelona in 1858. One year later he improves his vessel with a new design, which he patented in Paris. More successful trials happened in Alicante in 1860. Disappointed by the lack of interest shown by the Navy, he sunk his own submarine in the harbour of Alicante.
In 1859, Narciso Monturiol, tried his Ictineo in the harbour of Barcelona, again with great success. His ship is designed mainly to collect red coral in the Mediterranean waters. The first Ictineo was human powered, and a second version, which had a reciprocating engine while in the surface, and a steam powered engine while submerged was built. The lack of funds to continue the development, ended this venture.
The first french Rouquairol- Denayrouze diving equipment is bought in 1866, for a cost of 3.075 francs, and they were sent to the frigate Tetuán. Further sets are purchased, and divers are instructed to use them with utmost care, even instructed to breath hold dive when the use of these equipment was not absolutely necessary.
In 1883 the Siebe diving manuals were translated into Spanish and a copy sent to each of the Navy arsenals. They became official training manuals. The practical exam for student Navy divers was to descend in standard dress and then, using a wooden board and copper tacks, to inscribe the words ‘VIVA ESPAÑA’!
In 1885, the well known diver Alexander Lambert, recovered 9.800 gold coins from the wreck of the Alfonso XII, which sank in the waters of Gran Canaria, on its way to Cuba. Lambert blew the ships decks using dynamite to access the safe.
Spanish Navy Lieutenant Isaac Peral, tried his submarine in Cádiz in 1888. It proved to be a great success despite the adverse weather conditions. The submarine was powered by two battery powered electric engines, and carried two torpedoes. A second project was rejected by naval authorities. In 1890 a decree set the end of the projects of underwater navigation in the Spanish Navy. Peral, frustrated, retired from naval active duty in 1891. He refused to sell his invention to Mr. Thomson, a Glasgow shipyard owner.
In 1904 new regulations for diving in the Spanish Navy were published, given the importance of the changes experienced in recent years.
The first hyperbaric chamber is bought in 1924. It was a Siebe Gorman and it was set on an auxiliary barge. It was used until 1979, and saved the lives of 21 divers.
A new Navy’s Diving School is built in Cartagena in 1927. It had a diving tank capable of simulating dives up to 100 metres. The use of a divers log book is mandatory from now onwards.
In 1933 a submarine escape apparatus, and closed circuit diving equipment was designed by Navy diver Pablo Rondón Soriano. The chaleco España used two diving tanks (air and oxygen) a scrubbing cannister and a counterlung/vest. The diver could control the gas mixture according to the operating depth. Rondón himself tested it to 60 metres.
During the Spanish Civil War, and more precisely in 1937, the Navy organised the Comisión para el Salvamento de Buques, or Navy’s Ships Salvage Commission. Its purpose was to clear all harbours and to recover to seaworthy condition as many ships as possible, and scrap those that were not. It employed 34 divers (military and civilian) and it salvaged 117 ships with a total displacement of 160.000 tons.
In 1953 the manufacture of diving helmets started in Spain. Carbonell Gimeno was a fire fighting equipment importer and manufacturer who started producing diving equipment in the 1940s. Their first helmet was made in 1953. Another well known diving equipment manufacturer from Spain is Nemrod. They started as a toy manufacturing company, and again, they produced a line of diving items. Their helmets were also made in the 1950s. These helmets were standard equipment in the Spanish Navy until the 1980s. Finally, the French firm Spirotechnique made some helmets in Spain, and more precisely in Barcelona, where a Nemrod employee would build helmets for the French company in the evenings when he finished his work at the Nemrod factory.
Modern Spanish combat diving started in 1953 as what was known as the Grupo de Illetas, since it was in this place in the Balearic island where the unit was created. The unit was created by Spanish Royal Marines captain Gororodo, and Lieutenant Commander Fernández de Bobadilla developed their own closed circuit rebreather. It was manufactured by Nemrod, and it was named the H103 model.
In 1955 the first armoured diving units are bought by the Navy. They were the Galeazzi observation chamber known as Sofía, and the atmospheric diving suit called Roberto.
A sport diving record was set in 1957 when divers Admetlla, Ribera, Ferrán, Vidal, and Veglisón, with the support of the Spanish Navy, set a world record, diving to 100 metres on air.