Saturday, 22 December 2012

Jacques-Yves Cousteau (11 June 1910 – 25 June 1997)

Jacques-Yves Cousteau is perhaps the most well-known modern scuba diver and undersea explorer. He brought the world of undersea diving within the capabilities of ordinary people by inventing (with Emile Gagnan) the aqualung in 1942. This self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) now enables divers to remain under water for an hour or more instead of minutes. Also, Cousteau helped design other diving equipment such as the two-person diving saucer.His explorations, conducted from his famous oceanic ship Calypso, were documented and earned him numerous honors and awards. Cousteau was born in1910 in St. Andre-de-Cubzak, France. 

Jacques-Yves Cousteau (11 June 1910 – 25 June 1997)

He attended the Brest Naval Academy andbecame a naval gunnery officer in 1933. At the age of 47, Cousteau retired from the navy with the rank of corvette captain.
During World War II Cousteau co-invented the aqualung, a device that providespressurized air to the diver while underwater. Before the aqualung, divers had to wear heavy suits and fishbowl-like helmets that made swimming nearly impossible. But Cousteau's invention helped popularize scuba diving by providing far greater mobility for underwater exploration and leading to the development of modern scuba gear.

Cousteau's invention helped popularize scuba diving by providing far greater mobility for underwater exploration and leading to the development of modern scuba gear.

After the war, Cousteau involved himself in a series of projects, exploring the oceans, and designing and developing equipment for marine exploration. Hedeveloped the Calypso underwater camera, a forerunner to today's Nikonos camera. He participated in testing the bathyscaphe, a deep-diving vessel invented by Swiss physicist Auguste Piccard. In 1959, he co-invented the first exploration mini-submarine, the two person diving saucer, Soucoupe.

In 1959, he co-invented the first exploration mini-submarine, the two person diving saucer, Soucoupe

Diving research was another of Cousteau's many interests. Cousteau and Philippe Taillez established the Undersea Research Group at Toulon which became Europe's leading center for studying diving techniques and undersea living. Cousteau is also known for developing early underwater habitats -- the Conshelf I, II, and III -- located between 10 m and 100 m below the ocean surface, and capable of sheltering people for prolonged periods of time.Cousteau's documentary film, World Without Sun, which recorded man's first prolonged (30 days) stay in an undersea habitat, the Conshelf II, received an Oscar for Best Documentary in 1964.


Cousteau did not consider himself a scientist, but rather, a filmmaker, explorer, and environmentalist.
RV Calypso is a former British Royal Navy minesweeper converted into a research vessel for the oceanographic researcher Jacques-Yves Cousteau, equipped with a mobile laboratory for underwater field research. It was severely damaged in 1996, and is undergoing a complete refurbishment in 2009-2011. The ship is named after the Greek mythological figure Calypso.
In Malta, Jacques-Yves Cousteau discovered a former Royal Navy mine-sweeper that had been converted to a ferry and named Calypso. The ship was christened in 1942 but her first prosaic name, J-826, belied the exceptional life she would lead. To Cousteau, she was the ideal ship for his plan to explore the seas. Thanks to the financial help of Loël Guinness, the sale contract was signed on July 19, 1950. Calypso left immediately for the shipyard in Antibes, France, where she was transformed into an oceanographic ship and a new Calypso was born. One of her many innovations was the " false nose ", or underwater observation chamber built around the prow and equipped with eight portholes for viewing.



Cousteau came back convinced that there was only one solution for understanding the sea: " We must go see for ourselves. " Calypso was the ideal tool for that challenge.

Much of the equipment was donated by the private sector, including many companies, and the French Navy. Jacques Cousteau and his wife Simone also devoted a major part of their personal resources to the ship.
In June, 1951, Cousteau decided to put the ship in the water and run her first trials off Corsica. On board, the improvised crew was made up of a few friends. The whole Cousteau family made the trip: 12-year-old Jean-Michel and 10-year-old Philippe served as cabin boys.

On November 24, 1951, the real adventure began. Calypso sailed from the Toulon arsenal, headed for the Red Sea to study corals. The crew brought back valuable topographic and photographic documentation and samples of theretofore unknown fauna and flora. Cousteau came back convinced that there was only one solution for understanding the sea: " We must go see for ourselves. " Calypso was the ideal tool for that challenge.


In July, 1952, Calypso left Toulon for Marseilles. She shuttled back and forth to the little islet of Grand Congloué where the team was studying a shipwreck from the third century BC, lying 40 meters underwater. That was when a young Albert Falco joined the crew. Thousands of amphorae and pottery shards were brought to the surface and taken back to the Borely Museum and the Roman Docks Museum of Marseilles.

During the summer of 1953, Calypso was used to test new underwater cameras and electronic flashes invented by Dr. Harold Edgerton that made it possible to photograph deep water animals, pushing the limits of underwater exploration. The ship was ready for the fantastic film and television adventure that lay ahead of her. These 42.35 meters of floating wood became a laboratory, a film studio and home to a crew of 28.

 
For 40 years, Calypso carried Captain Cousteau and his teams to explore all the riches and the fragility of the oceans. At once a vessel, an operations base and a home, the ship sailed from the warm waters of the Indian Ocean to the ice of Antarctica. She towed the Conshelf structures, sailed up the Amazon River, housed film teams and became the symbol of a world to be explored and cared for.

Breakdowns, hurricanes, storms, ice, sand banks—through them all, Calypso was the leading actress of the " Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau ". She surmounted many an adventure and challenge. In the Suez Canal, she was almost sunk by mistake during the 1956 Egypt-Israel conflict.

After the war, Cousteau involved himself in a series of projects, exploring the oceans, and designing and developing equipment for marine exploration.

 It was three o'clock in the afternoon, in the port of Singapore, January 8, 1996, when a barge, in the process of being moved, seriously damaged Calypso just as she was about to depart for a Yellow River expedition. Her hull perforated, the grand old lady who had traveled through so many challenges heeled over and sank. The hearts of all her crew members over the years sank with her. It took 17 days to get the ship out of the water. Forever wounded, proud Calypso was now headed for one last mission: to bear witness for future generations of the extraordinary life of Captain Cousteau. Born of war, Calypso has become the messenger of peace and of protecting the water planet for future generations. Expeditions continued with her younger sister, Alcyone, daughter of the wind, launched in 1985.

Calypso did not belong to the Equipe Cousteau when she was sunk in the port of Singapore. She was actually leased by Loël Guinness to Captain Cousteau and then to his organization. After her tragic sinking, she was brought back to France and sold to Equipe Cousteau for the symbolic sum of one franc by Loël Guinness’s grandson and heir, which precipitated a flurry of legal problems. Equipe Cousteau was finally recognized as owner of the vessel with full rights to undertake her restoration, which was begun on October 12, 2007.


"The biggest obstacle was mixing abortion with overpopulation. These are two things that have nothing to do with each other."
Jacques Yves Cousteau
 Cousteau did not consider himself a scientist, but rather, a filmmaker, explorer, and environmentalist. He produced 65 films and lead over 80 expeditions.He won awards at both the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Awards for his 1956 feature film The Silent World. From the late 1950s on, he produced numerous television programs, including The World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and the series called The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.He wrote, co-wrote, or edited 80 books about the oceans and his adventures in them. The last of these, his memoir The Man, The Octopus, and the Orchid, was published just six days after his death. In 1974, Cousteau foundedthe Cousteau Society, one of the world's largest conservation groups. He spent much of his life trying to educate the public about the importance of the marine environment, its vulnerability and beauty.


 

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