The DDH-Carmagnolle diving helmet.
Part 3 of the Carmagnolle article has been contribute by Kees De Jonge


In French diving history, Carmagnolle is a well known name. Around 1880, the brothers Alphonse and Theodore Carmagnolle were the first French manufacturers who succeeded in constructing an atmospheric suit. This suit was equipped with movable joints and was made from metal.

The Carmagnolle suit consists of two pieces. At the middle, a device was made to connect these two parts together. Also a kind of lifting construction was made with which the suit could be lifted in and out of the water. This made the Carmagnolle suit very heavy, the total weight is approximately 380 kilograms.

The most recognisable part of the suit is the headpiece. There are 20 ports, of which one is able to be unscrewed. This was made to give the diver inside some fresh air while the suit was bolted together. There was only one suit made and the story goes it has never been used.

Development DDH-Carmagnolle

My French friend and fellow helmet collector Vincent Roc Roussey asked me to make a Dutch Diving Helmet following the Carmagnolle principle. To do so, we visited the French Navy museum in Paris, where the only Carmagnolle suit was on display. Our main purpose was to see if it was a realisable project. We came to the conclusion that it would be a challenge to combine a modern shallow water helmet with the old and recognisable French Carmagnolle looks.

We tried to follow the original Carmagnolle design as much as possible. Just as in the original, 20 ports, including one port that could be unscrewed, were attached to the helmet. Also, the vertical strip and horizontal ring were attached to the helmet. Originally, these were used to protect the glass of the ports.

On this special DDH Carmagnolle helmet is under the original DDH logo a second logo attached with the text:
De Jonge Roc Roussey, Submarine Engineers.

The result.
The construction of the helmet has, with some intervals, taken over 2 years. During the exposition: Les Scaphandriers de LíHistoire, held on May 12th to May 14th the DDH Carmagnolle helmet was presented to Vincent and to the other French collectors. It was a very nice thought that, after 127 years, the idea of a helmet with the 20 ports finally descended to the depth of a French harbour.


The photo to the left shows Vincent Roc Roussey just after finishing his honourable first dive in the DDH Carmagnolle helmet.

The lower photo shows Kees, returning after a nice underwater walk.

It was a memorable and comfortable dive and the thought that this special French helmet is also used for a maiden dive in France makes all the work worthwhile.

For more information:

All items in Part 3 have been contributed
By Kees De Jonge and are © 2006 by Diving Heritage

© 2006 by Diving Heritage

Return to part 2 of the Carmagnolle story