PANAMA CITY, FL-- The U.S. Navy embarked on a groundbreaking mission that started in Bay County 50 years ago.
They launched the Sealab in 192 feet of water off the coast of Bermuda after testing it in our local waters.
Now the vessel is back home and the community is celebrating the 50 anniversary of the Sealab program. A presentation was held at the Florida State University Panama City campus, to coincide with ocean week here in Florida.
The Navy created Sealab to determine if saturation diving was practical, and to see if man could work and live underwater for extended period of time. The four original Sealab divers were supposed to stay submerged for three weeks, but the Navy canceled the dive after 11 days, due to an approaching tropical storm.
Over the five years that followed, the Navy built a Sealab two and a Sealab three. The Sealab research has helped with advances in bio-medicine, marine mammal health, and new manned and unmanned underwater vehicles.
Sealab one is now on display at the Museum of Man in the Sea on Back Beach Road.