Sweden, Stockholm, Vasa-museum

One who is interested in the history of diving will be drawn to various museums and exhibitions and the like on his or her journeys. Below is an account of these ventures. You will also find a subpage presenting a list of all museums of diving history that we are aware of. If you learn to know one that is missing from our list then let us know and we will complete the list. There is a handy report form for your convenience.

A splendid museum is located In Portsmount, England. It is perhaps the mosts impressive museum of diving history and maritime history that we have visited. The british isles have found the need both for a large commercial fleet and an armada and underwater activities are well portrayed in these museums. We must no forget the unique museums in countless other countries, though.

Other good (and closer to Finland!) destinations for people interested in diving history include, for example, St Petersburg/Kronstadt, Tallinn, Gdansk and Stockholm. All of these relatively nearby destinations have interesting displays. Each museum wants to present its pride on its website but sometimes a visitor pays attention to other things than the local people. On this page we showcase a number of items that have caught our eyes.

It must be noted too, that most maritime museums have at least one diving related display.

Stockholm, Dyktankhus

The Historical Diving Society of Sweden, Svenska Dykerihistoriska Förening (SDF), is worlds oldest such society. It was founded in 1979. It managed to get hold of a building called the Dive Tank House, “Dyktankhus”, that was used as a training and research station in the Kalärvarvet submarine fleet base. In the building there was a dive tank for submarine escape training. There was also a hyperbaric chamber for research purposes and a steam generator. Hot steam was used to maintain the operation readiness of submarines. Today the building houses a museum of diving history maintained by SDF.

A number of photographs from Dyktankhuset can be viewed below. The place is worth a visit but you are encouraged to check the opening times in advance. This museum is in the immediate vicinity of the Wasa museum.

Outside the Dyktankhus ones attention is drawn to two outlandish items. They grey “Svea” was part of the submarine support vessel Belos’es equipment. It is a rescue vessel used to extract crew from submarines unable to resurface.
The blue tank on the other hand is an ordinary normobaric (1atm) observation chamber. Hence all the windows.
One of the items in Dyktankhus, a wooden open helmet built by Ekholm brothers in 1944. Notice how the ends of a cast iron bench from a park have found a new life as dive weights sinking this rather floaty piece of kit. The Ekholm brothers did not have access to lead. Historical Diving Society of Finland made a replica of this diving helmet using the original drawings and occasionally dives with it.
“Portable hyperbaric chamber” in the collections of Dyktankhus. We know that the Finnish navy had a similar one, but assumably it has been scrapped.
This corner in Dyktankhus displaying a replica of a 16th century diving bell and a diving dress made of elk skin marked the beginning of Historical Diving Society of Finland and the annual Day of Diving.

The Vasa-museum

After a few minutes walk from Dyktankhus you will find yourself in the Vasa museum. It is a place well worth a half-day visit. The recovery of the Vasa warship involved a lot of diving. The earliest dives were done in the beginning of the 1660’s when Treileben and Peckel used freedivers and a diving bell to recover cannons from a depth of 30m. Out of 60 gun barrels more than 50 were recovered. An impressive feat!

The wreck was rediscovered and dived in the 1950’s. It was then recovered from its watery grave in a lengthy diving operation by Swedish navy divers led by Per Edvind Fälting. Channels had to be dug under the wreck for the hoisting slings.

A replica of the imagined diving bell of Treileben in the Vasa-museum. The bell can be entered and from the pictures on the wall one can see how far up the water raised at a depth of 30m.
A nozzle designed by Lars Zetterström allowed divers to dig six tunnels underneath the Vasa ship. Hoisting cables were then run through these tunnels. The nozzle sent a water jet forward while also creating a secondary reverse water flow pushing sediment back.