Presented is an authentic 6 bolt, 3 light Siebe.Gorman Royal
Navy pattern helmet from the 1940’s era . It was previously owned by U.S. Navy diver “Boots” Servario
who served with distinction in the U.S. Navy from 1942 until 1966 when he was forced to retire due to health. Byron Servario,
Jr., his son, a retired Army officer in Special Forces and also a diver, personally saw this helmet when the family
was together in Yokusuka, Japan, during Boots’ tour there in 1960 as Docking Officer. The helmet has been in family’s
possession since then which is 46 years, but likely longer since there is no record of when or how Boots’ acquired
“Boots” being suited up. USS SAFEGUARD 1959
“Boots” & Byron, Jr., Rockport, TX, 1978
As originally received
Few if any dents
CONDITION and MARKINGS:
The helmet originally was tinned, but over the years had become badly oxidized, and some had worn off in spots which
distracted from its overall near perfect condition of the bonnet and breast plate. It was because of this that the helmet
was recently polished.
The heavily worn tag, is pitted by
corrosion, and reads Siebe Gorman & Co. Ltd., Submarine Engineers, London, Patent. “Front” and “Patent”
appear in two places on the front bails. The breast plate has number 12423 stamped on the inside back neck ring.
The bails are stamped the same underneath, and “back”. The bonnet number, 12318, appears on the back inside of its
neck ring. The air passages inside are intact and the relief valve works. The spit cock and front door open.
There is a telephone elbow on the back with a large size hex cap marked “telephone”. All the port lights are in excellent
original condition. There are no dents on this helmet which only attest to being in a private collection all these years.
DIMENSIONS OF HELMET: 19″ H x 14 1/2″ W
WEIGHT 48 lbs
BRIEF HISTORY: Augustus Siebe the German-born
founder of the firm which bears his name (1788-1872) is considered “the father of diving”. Siebe’s ‘closed’
diving helmet, first produced in 1840, allowed divers to dive safely to greater depths than ever before. Attached to a rubber
suit, it became the ‘Standard Dress’ that revolutionized diving and made the underwater worker an essential part of both salvage
operations and civil engineering. Many of the great building projects of the Victorian era – bridges, tunnels and lighthouses
still in use today – could not have been built without divers.
Siebe’s design was so successful that it remained in use, essentially
unchanged, until 1975. However, the Royal Navy required one of their own design, and the British Admiralty requested
a helmet made to their specifications which used heavier materials in 1938. This was the Royal Navy six bolt helmet,
as seen in this offering. The rest of the “Jake” was standard commercial equipment, except for the front weight which
had a light fitted to it, to aid the diver. The chest weights weigh about 40lbs. each and are tied down to stop the helmet
rising from the diver’s shoulders. The weights are hung from weight hangers on the front of the breast plate.
The Royal Navy set out to extend
the limits of deep diving and established a world depth record, in 1948, of 540-feet wearing a Seibe Gorman helmet
of this design, but incorporating a Davis Injector system, flexible dress, and used the fast dwindling
supplies of American Lend-Lease helium. Petty-Officer Bollard set the depth record that was to last eight years.
Not until 1956 would the baton pass to another.
In October of that year, Senior Commissioned Boatswain
George Wookey, descended to a depth of 600-feet, setting record for a helmeted diver wearing flexible dress that still
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