1919 Morse Navy MK V Bonnet Diving Helmet

x 14” W   WEIGHT 32 lbs
Copyright 2005 by Land And Sea Collection, All
Rights Reserved.


Presented is an authentic 12 bolt, 4 light Morse Navy MK V diving helmet
which is was made in 1919 thereby being one of the earliest MK V’s built is being offered without a breast plate. Mark V Helmets
produced by Morse, Desco, Schrader and Miller-Dunn, the manufacturers were made to U. S. Navy specifications so
the parts could be interchanged when necessary. This means that this bonnet will most likely fit any MK V breast plate.
Morse records show that SN 2683 was made in 1919, and shipped to the Brooklyn
Navy Yard. Because this was so early in the game, it predates when the USN hats had the special anchor cartouche
stamped on them which started around WW II. In 1925, the helmet was surveyed out of the Navy into commercial service,
but to whom is not known. 


At ninety years old it shows lots of use. You will note the heavy soldering around the
banana exhaust, some ports, and certain other parts. These were done over the years to stop leaks. We think they
add a lot of character and show its lengthy history, others might think they distract form its appearance. Our opinion is
that they make this MK V a very distinctive and desirable bonnet.
CONDITION:  This bonnet has
seen ninety years of service and has the dents, and built up soldering to attest to its longevity. Its deep dark patina has
a redish cast which is quite dramatic and unusual. It is complete in all respects with all moving parts operating and
guaranteed authentic. However, it is being offered as a display item only, and should not be used for any other purpose
unless certified by a competent diving shop.
The number 2683 appears
on the neck ring. All the air passages inside are intact.
The helmet
weighs 32 pounds.


HISTORY OF MORSE DIVING: In the arena of deep sea diving, there are
few companies with the longevity and history of Morse Diving.  The company was founded in 1837 as a Boston maker
of brassware, three years before Englishman Augustus Siebe manufactured its first closed air dive helmet. During the Civil
War, the firm commenced building maritime fittings and began experimenting with early underwater hardhat designs from
Siebe-Gorman and other pioneering makers. In 1864, Andrew Morse bought out his partner, introduced his sons into the business,
and began to focus on creating new products for underwater salvage expeditions. As their expertise and experience grew over
the years, they developed a worldwide reputation as a major supplier of hardhat diving apparatus. Morse was the
first company to make the Navy MK V helmet, starting production in 1916. During the onslaught of World War Two only Morse
and then Schrader were making dive helmets for the Navy. Desco and Miller-Dunn went into production around 1942 or 1943. In
total only about 7,000 MK V helmets were produced by all four companies during the war years.



Left side

    Inner Workings



By 1905, the Bureau of Construction and Repair had designed the MK V Diving Helmet
which seemed to address many of the problems encountered in diving. This deep-sea outfit was designed for extensive, rugged
diving work and provided the diver maximum physical protection and some maneuverability.
The 1905 MK V Diving Helmet had an elbow inlet with a safety valve that allowed
air to enter the helmet, but not to escape back up the umbilical if the air supply were interrupted. Air was expelled from
the helmet through an exhaust valve on the right side, below the port. The exhaust valve was vented toward the rear of the
helmet to prevent escaping bubbles from interfering with the diver’s field of vision.
By 1916, several improvements had been made to the helmet, including a rudimentary
communications system via a telephone cable and a regulating valve operated by an interior push button. The regulating valve
allowed some control of the atmospheric pressure. A supplementary relief valve, known as the spitcock, was added to the left
side of the helmet. A safety catch was also incorporated to keep the helmet attached to the breast plate. The exhaust valve
and the communications system were improved by 1927, and the weight of the helmet was decreased to be more comfortable for
the diver.
After 1927, the MK V changed very little. It remained basically the same helmet
used in salvage operations of the USS S-51 and USS S-4 in the mid-1920s. With its associated deep-sea dress and umbilical,
the MK V was used for all submarine rescue and salvage work undertaken in peacetime and practically all salvage work undertaken
during World War II. The MK V Diving Helmet was the standard U.S. Navy diving equipment until succeeded by the MK 12 Surface-Supplied
In February 1980 the MK 12 was replaced by the MK 21 in December 1993.



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