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Historic Suez Canal Joe Savoie Dive Helmet
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Historic Suez Canal Joe Savoie Dive Helmet

HISTORIC JOE SAVOIE DIVE HELMET
Two Digit Serial Number

 
Rare Joe Savoie fiberglass dive helmet image

 USED IN CLEARING THE SUEZ CANAL
After 1967 Six Day War between Egypt and Israel


DIMENSIONS: 10" H x 13 1/2" W x 14" D                                                                 Weight 31 lbs
 


Woody Meeks suiting up for a Suez Canal dive in 1975 imagePresented is one of the early fiber light weight dive helmets designed by Joe Savoie of Boutte, Louisiana in the 1960's. Joe revolutionized dive helmet designs with his carefully engineered stainless components and rubber neck dam. He passed away at age 70 on March 10, 1996. This helmet was was owned by Woody Lamar Meeks, a professional diver with an interesting employment history starting with working at the Huntsville, AL., US Space & Rocket Center as a diver and later, based in New Orleans, he worked in the Gulf and the Mid East on major projects such as clearing the Suez Canal.

Woody died in in 2015 and the helmet, in its last dived condition, was recently put up for sale by his daughter. The helmet is in remarkably good condition with everything seemingly intact. 

The picture on the left shows Woody suiting up for a Suez Canal dive in 1975. More on this in his biography below.

This helmet is one of Joe's original Style 1 design. It was based on an Italian race car driver's helmet with fiberglass body and flip-up face mask with his machined stainless fittings, and innovative rubber neck dam. It became immediately popular in the Commercial Diving Industry. This design has a fixed face shield, and improved air control and exhaust valves. Savoie continued to use the fiber racing shell until 1971 when it was changed to steel.

In total, Joe produced only several hundred different types and styles in both fiberglass and steel for air and mixed gas, and a few with a number of demand regulators.

LIKE ALL OLD HELMETS, IT SHOULD NOT BE DIVED WITHOUT BEING CERTIFIED

Partial side view of Joe Savoie Fiberglass dive helmet image
 
Right side showing exhaust valve and inlet elbow in the back. Faceplate is fixed
 
Partial left side of Savoie helmet image
Maker's name on Savoie helmet image
Top: Partial left view showing the two small communication inlets over the Maker' s Mark

CONDITION: The helmet seems to be complete, and the microphone, though it doesn't show in the pictures, is in the helmet. We have not tested the helmet and do not know if all parts are present or if they work. The neck dam's sponge rubber is in pretty good condition, but there is some cracking around the fold that shows in the picture below. Kirby-Morgan should be able to provide a suitable replacement. The headliner shows use, but is complete and also in pretty good condidtion.

LIKE ALL OLD HELMETS, IT SHOULD NOT BE DIVED WITHOUT BEING CERTIFIED 

 

PROVENANCE: Woody (that's his given name) Lamar Meeks began his diving career with the Hayes Corp. at the Redstone Arsenal, in Huntsville, AL, AKA US Space Center  & Rocket Center He was a diver in the Neutral Buoyancy tank that was used to train astronauts.  One day, Dr. Werner Von Braun, the famous German WW II rocket scientist who worked there, and some other dignitaries showed up for a demonstration on how  astronauts were trained.  Dr. Von Braun suited up to show the guests how this worked.  Before Dr. Von Braun's hat was totally secured he fell off the back of the platform.  His astronaut suit filled with water and he sank like a rock. Meeks was in the water as a life guard and pulled Dr. VonBraun from the bottom, essentially saving his life. This was never revealed because at the time it would have been very bad publicity.

After leaving the Hayes Corp., he relocated to New Orleans, LA. This helmet was purchased by Woody Meeks directly from Joe Savoie in July, 1970. Meeks lived and worked out of New Orleans, most of the rest of his life except for the periods he was sent overseas on diving jobs. It is said that Woody started his Lousianna diving career with Pelican Divers working off shore on gas jobs.  He never worked on oil rigs in the Gulf as far as his daughter remembers.  If he did, it was for very short-term jobs.  He also worked for McDermott, but the time frame is uncertain.  In early 1973 or 74, he was working for Global Divers and was assigned to a crew that was subcontracted to the Navy. Their job was to go to Egypt and clean out the wreckage in the Suez Canal caused by the devastation of the 1967 Six Day War between Egypt and Israel.  National Geographic Magazine covered the clearing of the canal in their July 1975 issue. The magazine's writer followed Woody around for months, but when the article was published the story of another diver who had a hair-raising experience was substiuted instead. During this period, the Meeks' son was in the Navy and their daughter was marrried so Woody took his wife with him. Woody and his wife lived in Navy dependent housing in Suez City while he was working there. 

He and his wife also lived in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Santa Domingo.  In the late 1970's to early 80's, they were sent to Philadelphia, PA.  They were there for 9 months on a salvage job of a fairly large vessel that had burned and sank in the Philadelphia Harbor.  Meeks was designated to cut that vessel up and remove the bodies from the wreckage.  After July, 1970, he always took his much loved Savoie helmet with him. Woody, at age 84, died in April, 2015, and the family has now decided to part with his helmet.

MARKINGS: The initials, JS appears on both exhaust valves with Joe's signature beneath. The two digit serial number is stamped on the intake elbow.

Inside of the Savoie helmet image
Inside of the helmet showing the headliner

 

Top of the neck ring image

Bottom of neck ring image

Top of Neck Ring shown over bottom of Neck Ring
 

OUR PRIOR JOE SAVOIE SALES: We have been the largest seller of Joe Savoie helmets bar none. They included two fiberglass helmets and one stainless helmet in new condidtion with a new faceplate and a new set of liner panels, and new dam. In deference to our customers, we do not publish sales prices on sold items. This one, based on its age, condition, and diving history, is fairly priced compared to others we have sold.. 

It is hard to find any listed on the internet for comparison, but on August 11, 2011 a stainless air/gas Savoie helmet, Number 48, sold on eBay for $8550.00. The listing stated it had been modified by a commercial diver and that the original leather liner and faceplate were replacements.
 

Bonus items included with the Savoie helmet sale  image
Bonus items to be included with helmet

BONUS ITEMS INCLUDED WITH SALE:

Original Joe Savoie invoice
Two pictures of Woody Meeks suited up with helmet
International Association of Professional Divers Patch - new condition

OUR UNCONDITIONAL NO NONSENSE GUARANTEE: If not completely satisfied with your purchase it may be returned, if without damage, within three days of receipt in its original packaging. Return items must be insured for their full value. Only a prior email authorization by us for the return is required. Shipping charges are  included in this offer if the error is due to our fault.  

SHIPPING; This is a heavy article and it will be shipped by FedEx Ground Point to Point. Please inquire as to rates by email and include your zip code.

International buyers welcome, but inquire first. We have satisfied customers in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Chile, Republic of China, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Estonia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Martinique, Mexico, New Hebrides (Vanuatu), New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Nova Scotia, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, St. Maarten, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, USVI, Vanuatu (New Hebrides) and the Eastern Caribbean.

STANDARD FORMS OF PAYMENT are Bank wire transfer, cashier's check, money order, or personal check in which case the item will be held until cleared. Our prices are quoted net to us so that the use of credit cards or PayPal for lesser value items incur extra charges. Terms on overseas sales may be different. 

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