RARE 1942 MORSE NAVY MK V
NEAR FULLY TINNED
STAND NOT INCLUDED
is a very rare, because of its tinning, 12 bolt, 4 light Morse Navy MK V diving helmet that was made in 1942 six months after
the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Because the helmet has almost all of its original tinning it has a spectacular
appearance, and will make a great conversation piece in any decor. Morse was one of the original Navy suppliers of the MK
V Diving System, but MK V helmets from DESCO and Schrader are much more prevalent on the market which makes this helmet ideal
for the serious collector or someone interested in only the finest
The stand is not included. Morse records show that SN 989 was made in 1942, and shipped to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The
matching build numbers, 4289 appear on the two neck rings, as well as on the brails. There is no USN special anchor inspector’s
marks on this helmet. PROVENANCE: This helmet was formerly owned by a professional
diver and collector of helmets, diving gear and equipment who acquired it about twenty five years ago. Nothing else is known
other than it originally saw service in the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
SN No. 898 Date 5/13/42 speaker housing with speaker missing Vents
This bonnet is seventy
one years old and has the expected dents and abrasions to attest to its age. There is one significant dent at the top right
of the crown which was made by a sharp object. But it is in excellent condition overall and has about 95% of of its tinning
remaining. Its bright silver patina has some copper undertones most prevalent on the front around the maker’s tag. It is complete
in all respects except for a speaker and the brailes are original. All moving parts operate. All the air passages inside are intact.The
helmet weighs 55 pounds.
It is being offered as a display item only, and should not be used for any other purpose unless
certified by a competent diving
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 brass ware, 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. In 1904, that firm became A. J. Morse and Sons, Inc., under which name it continued until 1940. Then
the name Morse was re-incorporated as Morse Diving Equipment Company, Inc. Finally in 1998, the company changed owners, and
became Morse Diving Inc.
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.
BRIEF HISTORY of NAVY MK V DEEP SEA DIVING DRESS: By 1915, 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 1915 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
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 spit cock, 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-1920’s. 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 Diving
In February 1980 which in turn was replaced by the MK 21 in December 1993.