"Tektite II had over 500 participants representing approximately 50 organisations."
Tektite II had many various goals. As in Tektite I, the programme was designed to permit marine scientists to carry out a variety of in situ research missions under saturation diving conditions. While these scientists were conducting their underwater research missions, they were under observation by behavioural and biomedical teams whose objectives were to add 2 and further refine the behavioural and psychological studies initiated in Tektite I.
Mission 6-50. Mission Dates: July 6 to July 20. Duration: 14 Full Days.
While the basic science programme was the core principle purpose of conducting Tektite II, there were other aspects to the programme. A total of 53 aquanaut were given the opportunity to experience first-hand the advantages and disadvantages of conducting research from the ocean floor. This significantly increased the cadre of these countries’ aquanaut scientists and it gives the nation an experienced base on which to expand. In almost every instance the aquanaut desired to stay longer and expand upon their work. Perhaps more importantly, they all felt that their perspective changed as a result of their ocean floor habitation. Many commented that, if only I knew how it was, I could have planned my programme better. This suggests that in the future, aquanaut scientists should live on the ocean floor for a few days for orientation, return to the surface, plan their investigations, and then return to the bottom to carry them out.
Another major aspect of the programme was the technical training of scientific, technical, and support personnel. Over 30 diving technicians received direct training in support of diving, decompression procedures, and many other skills associated with saturation and conventional diving. The constant contact with scientists considerably broadened their outlook on ocean science. In addition, approximately 20 divers from the Department of the army had the unusual opportunity of participating in a programme where their diving skills could be put to use and where they could take part in a marine research programme. The ocean survey programme provided an opportunity for training 296 student ocean science technicians. A total of 10,180 three student training days were involved this. This training was accomplished under the supervision of 19 faculty representatives from several education institutions. Further training and experience in psychology was provided to approximately 35 students from the University of Texas during execution of the behavioural science programme. Training was not limited to students. About 30 middle management personnel were utilised as watch directors during the programme. These individuals were assigned major responsibilities and essentially performed as offices of the deck. Much was learned that will provide an invaluable core of experience for future programmes.
Advances were made in saturation diving with the development of knew decompression tables for saturation exposure to depths of 100 feet using a breathing mixture of 95% nitrogen and 5% oxygen. These tables were successfully tested and were used upon completion of a two-week saturation dive to 100 feet in the new hyperbaric chamber facilities of the University of Pennsylvania. Extensive medical tests during this programme demonstrated clearly that it was safe to use nitrogen systems at this depth. While the open sea trials at 100 feet were not completed, the successful laboratory efforts point the way for expanded shallow water diving programmes.
The programme such as tektite has responsibilities over and above the scientific and technical achievements one of these responsibilities is to inform the scientific community and the general public of the programme and the benefits to be obtained. This report, together with articles to be published in professional journals by the scientists, will go far towards informing the scientific community. The general public, however, must be informed through the standard news media. To this end a public affairs programme was developed which resulted in broad dissemination Of programme information. Even here the benefits are numerous. As a result of this effort, we have received many requests from young people all over the world for information concerning the programme and queries as to how they can get involved. These are intangible but important benefits which frequently are not listed as accomplishments in technical programmes.
Welcome to Tektite2020 a mix of live presentations and performances free online here 17-18 July 2020. This event was initiated and hosted by Dr Sarah Jane Pell and Dr. Tierney Thys and enthusiastically welcomed by the Tektite II Team. Web content includes reflection and reporting on the 50th Anniversary of Mission 6, and presentations by leading Sea and Space professionals on the most recent exploration, achievements and pressing issues today. Outcomes will help set the vision for the next 50-years commencing with a 10-day all-women undersea mission at Aquarius Reef Base in 2021. Attendees share in the celebrations, share in knowledge, new perspectives and tools to transform the ocean world for a better future!