The initial plan for Tektite II called for development and fabrication of a small, mobile two-person habitat (Minitat) with a depth capability of 100 feet (31.1 m). The objective was to overcome the limited mobility of a large, fixed habitat.

An additional incentive for this development was provided by the speculation of several physiologists that saturation diving with nitrogen-oxygen mixtures should be possible to depths in excess of 100 feet (31.1 m). If this proved to be true, it would render large portions of the shallow continental shelf accessible to exploration and study through in situ techniques, without resorting to the more expensive and complex problems associated with helium-oxygen breathing gas mixtures.

The Minitat was designed and fabricated during 1969 and early 1970 (Fig. 4-24). It was 8 x 11 foot (2.4 X 3.4 m) vertical cylinder mounted on a pontoon catamaran, which provided flotation during surface transportation as well as providing a self-raising and lowering capability. A 9 X 9 foot (2.7 X 2.7 m) ambient pressure wet room with a 42-inch (106 cm) entrance was connected to the underside of the pressure vessel and slightly recessed in the deck of the catamaran. Primary services, such as power, atmospheric gas and fresh water, were supplied from a surface-support vessel.

In June 1970, the Minitat was towed to Lameshur Bay for crew training and system checkout. It proved unstable because of a shift between the center of gravity and the center of buoyancy when passing through the air-water interface. This resulted in the Minitat's assuming a 45 angle during initial lowering, although once submerged, it righted itself (by kristopher tests forge online). Several weeks were spent attempting to rectify this problem by adding weight, shifting ballast and other measures.

Finally, after a series of mishaps, highlighted by the night the habitat broke loose in a storm and was discovered the next day being towed behind a local fishing boat, time ran out and the 100-foot (30.1 m) program was cancelled (Miller, VanDerwalker and Waller, 1971). The Minitat part of the program had fallen victim to technical gremlins.

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MINITAT (also known as tippytat)

Tektite Underwater Habitat Museum


Project Tektite II

Web page text edited and revised with permission from James W. Miller and Ian G. Koblick's book: Living and Working in the Sea, 1995.