Known to commercial divers throughout the world DESCO was
first organized in 1937 as a Wisconsin corporation under the
name of Diving Equipment and Salvage Co. Its organization was
the result of several events which occurred during the preceding
The firm was founded by Max Nohl and Jack Browne. Jack became famous for inventing the full face mask an Max for his deep dive to 420 feet in Lake Michigan in 1937
World War II brought large Navy contracts for diving equipment to DESCO. They included not only conventional hard-hat gear, but also the design, development and manufacture of an oxygen rebreather, known as the "B Lung." This, for the first time, permitted Navy divers to swim freely under the surface, in the manner of SCUBA divers today, but without producing bubbles which might disclose their position. By V-J Day, DESCO was producing more diving equipment than any other company in the world.
Over the years ownership changed several times. In May 1966, DESCO was purchased by Tom and Marilyn Fifield. In 1968 it moved to its present address at 240 North Milwaukee Street in Milwaukee.
Mr. Fifield was responsible in the 1960's for the design and development of the DESCO Diving Hat which remains a standard piece of modern equipment for diving with air in relatively shallow water where mixed gases are not needed. Also the company, in addition to its full line of conventional diving equipment, has continued to improve and manufacture its famous DESCO Full-Face Mask which originated in the early design efforts of Jack Browne and Max Nohl. This mask has probably been used in more total hours of commercial diving than any other piece of equipment ever made.
often referred to as the "DESCO Pot". This helmet, number 70
from 1969 belongs to our friend and helmet collector Magus Lundbeck from
|This is a "free-flow" air hat of modern design made of the
same materials used in the Navy Mark V and other conventional helmets. The
bonnet is made of copper and the window acrylic.
Using the adjustable exhaust valve, the hat can be adjusted either side of neutral buoyancy under water.
The hat can be used with the neoprene "neck-dam" supplied with each hat or with any diving suit equipped with a cylindrical DESCO "yoke" which then attaches to the hat's neck-ring insert in lieu of the neck-dam.
The hat comes equipped with a "double" one way exhaust valve that incorporates two separate successive seals to prevent possible leakage of water back into the hat through the exhaust outlet.
It has a double "air in-take" elbow with two non-return valves for use with a "bail-out" system (a tank on the back in case something goes wrong with the air-supply from the surface.
When used with a dry suit it provides the diver with maximum protection in contaminated water.
Weight of the complete hat is approximately 34 lb. Courtesy of DESCO
DESCO also still produces metal lightweight helmets like the Abalone divers helmet and the Sponge divers helmet. The lastest model is the Browne helmet.
Browne Commercial Diving Helmet
|The Browne Commercial Helmet is the newest addition to the DESCO Lightweight Helmetline. Its standard features include oversized screw in type Acrylic windows sealed with O-rings, an integrated air control valve, a large air diffuser/muffler, a low profile air communications block, and a double exhaust valve system. The air inlet assembly can be adapted to accept a variety of hose ends including 1/2" Navy, 9/16"O2, or JIC. The helmet is fitted with a Marsh Marine type 4 wire plug with a noise canceling self amplifying speaker in a two wire communications configuration. Adaptation to four wire communications is as simple as wiring in a microphone. The Breastplate is fitted with combination lashing post/eyelets, and large eyelets on the front brales. The breastplate is standard DESCO Lightweight and will fit a commercial collar.|
DESCO Face Masks
The world famous Jack Browne facemask invented by Desco founder Jack Browne and probably the most widespread piece of professional diving equipment in the world.
A Jack Browne sold on Ebay in absolute new state. The cardboard placed by the manufacturer is even still in place.
These days, DESCO has two facemasks in store for the commercial diver. The freeflow mask and the demand regulator mask. They are ideal for shallow and uncontaminated water.
||Air is delivered through a non-return valve and an air control valve on the right side of the mask. Air is directed inside the mask so as to defog the faceplate. The rubber disk one-way exhaust valve is mounted on the left.|
Demand regulator mask
||The basics are the same as on the freeflow mask. A second-stage regulator is fitted on the right side. It can be opened: you than have a freeflow mask. When closed, air is available to the diver, through the regulator. The diver can breathe comfortably. There is not much noise so communication with the surface is a lot easier. A warning is in place here. If it is used too long in the demand mode, CO2 will built up inside the mask ! Now and then it has to be ventilated by opening the air control valve.|