Submersibles and Bathyscaphes in the Mediterranean Sea

Mediterranean Sea; Toulon, France
Harold E. Edgerton
Film type:
16mm, Kodachrome
Run time:
Albert Falco, Georges Houot, Harold E. Edgerton, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Simone Cousteau
Harold E. Edgerton participated in a number of oceanographic expeditions with submersibles and bathyscaphes equipped with Edgerton’s lights and cameras in the Mediterranean Sea. This film compilation showcases 1954 fieldwork conducted with Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s team and his two-person submersible "SOUCOUPE." Scenes show Cousteau and his wife Simone and their collaborator Albert Falco on board ESPADON and CALYPSO. Edgerton’s film also documents maneuvers with the French Navy's bathyscaphe FNRS III, captained by Comm. Georges Houot, in Toulon, France. Edgerton shows deep-sea photographs achieved during this fieldwork season as featured in the pages of the National Geographic Magazine.

Tagged: Calypso, Cousteau, deep-sea, dive scooter, ESPADON, FNRS III, Mediterranean, National Geographic Magazine, oceanography, soucoupe, submersible, underwater photography

00:00:01 Introductory information: film title, synopsis, date, run time.
00:00:08 Film begins.
00:00:11 SE coast of France: ESPADON fishing boat on Mediterranean waters moors to a dock (off-camera).
00:00:19 ESPADON motors through waves past a white rocky coastline.
00:00:29 View of a steep rocky coastline point; the boat appears to be anchored.
00:00:38 Harold Edgerton puts on a scuba suit on board the boat.
00:00:47 A scanned view of the rocky coastal point eventually pans to Simone Cousteau, Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s wife.
00:00:58 Simone Cousteau assists skipper Albert Falco in carrying a large yellow dive scooter across the boat deck (similar to the scooter seen in Cousteau’s 1956 film “The Silent World”).
00:01:01 Edgerton assists Simone and Falco.
00:01:04 Simone maneuvers the dive scooter on deck.
00:01:05 Edgerton maneuvers dive scooter and sets it in a wooden cradle on deck.
00:01:07 Edgerton jokingly flexes his muscles after the lifting effort.
00:01:09 Men assist in maneuvering the dive scooter over the boat’s side into the water.
00:01:15 Edgerton puts on a triple set of scuba tanks.
00:01:21 Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Edgerton talk.
00:01:29 Edgerton descends boat ladder into the water.
00:01:39 Dive scooter is deployed overboard into the water. A diver in the water unhooks the scooter from the boat-based cable. Diver (Edgerton?) scoots away under water using the scooter.
00:02:01 Cousteau and others peer overboard.
00:02:05 Edgerton (balding head) appears under the water surface propelled by the scooter.
00:02:12 Another diver retrieves the scooter attached to the boat cable, and the scooter is lifted up out of the water.
00:02:19 Edgerton comes back up the boat ladder.
00:02:22 Albert Falco (left) and Edgerton are back on board; Falco shows off a piece of coral he has brought up.
00:02:31 Edgerton talks to others on board.
00:02:36 Edgerton removes his triple scuba tank.
00:02:40 Falco stands within the top entrance hatch of the Cousteau submersible SOUCOUPE as another man hands him a series of thin rectangular objects (possibly to do with vehicle ballast?).
00:02:45 Edgerton climbs up into the SOUCOUPE entrance hatch; an Edgerton flash lamp is prominently visible outside the hatch.
00:02:54 Falco kneels and looks into the entrance hatch.
00:02:55 A hand pulls the hatch door closed. Men on deck check SOUCOUPE lamps, cables, etc.
00:03:09 A man wearing a snorkel, mask and fins perches on top of the submersible and adjusts the heavy cable and crane used to hoist SOUCOUPE from the deck to the water.
00:03:16 Crew members make adjustments to the submersible on deck, and then assist as the submersible swings out over deck towards the water.
00:03:32 SOUCOUPE submersible swings out over the water with man in snorkel holds on to top of vehicle. Once the vehicle is submerged he disengages the large hook holding the vehicle to the boat crane.
00:03:51 The man floats above the submersible just below the water surface.
00:04:00 SOUCOUPE is released and begins to sink down as the snorkeler observes from the water surface.
00:04:11 The snorkeler is retrieved from the water holding onto the crane hook.
00:04:17 Deckhands hold onto crane in tippy seas.
00:04:27 A small motorboat hovers near the SOUCOUPE submersible as it surfaces, emitting two large spouts of water.
00:04:43 Snorkeler assists submersible; lighthouse is visible on background shore.
00:04:46 Snorkeler attaches large hook to submersible to be hoisted up to deck, and falls back into water.
00:05:01 The submersible is lifted onto the deck with the powerful crane, with assistance from deckhands and people on board a motorboat. SOUCOUPE is slowly lowered into its “port” on the deck and lashed down in place.
00:05:11 Edgerton (left) and Falco outside SOUCOUPE admire a marine-encrusted ceramic pot (short-necked, two-handled, missing most of its body) retrieved from the sea floor. Falco hands it to Edgerton, who shakes his hand and thanks him.
00:05:48 Toulon, SE France: A marine officer on the dock assists maneuvers of the large French Navy bathyscaphe FNRS III into the water.
00:06:12 Detailed view of the FNRS III portholes and Edgerton strobe lights and cameras.
00:06:18 Another detailed view of FNRS III portholes and Edgerton strobe lights and cameras.
00:06:20 Harold Edgerton sets up a cylinder camera; he places a pressure-damaged camera case (labeled “#8200”) next to it, and displays the squashed metal camera case.
00:06:58 Officers on board a motorboat between the dock and the FNRS III bathyscaphe carry an officer (likely Georges Houot, the commander) to the bathyscaphe. He climbs on board and enters the vessel ‘sail’ (where communications equipment and entrance hatch are located).
00:07:23 The bathyscaphe is shown from its stern.
00:07:28 The bathyscaphe is slowly towed within the harbor.
00:07:39 Men unload bags (ballast for the bathyscaphe?) from a truck on the dock.
00:07:46 Men on board the bathyscaphe deck stand within the ‘sail’ while others on the dock walk across the boat ramp.
00:07:59 Fueling bathyscaphe (possibly gasoline used for flotation).
00:08:04 Men carry Edgerton’s deep-sea camera equipment across the ramp from the dock to the bathyscaphe deck.
00:08:17 Scuba divers get ready to dive, on the bathyscaphe deck.
00:08:22 Scuba diver off the dock swims towards the bathyscaphe.
00:08:32 Navy officers on the bathyscaphe deck; thick line is used to tie the bathyscaphe to the towboat.
00:08:38 Deckhand and navy officer on board the towboat observe maneuvers with the bathyscaphe in the distance.
00:08:47 Jacques-Yves Cousteau (left) and others, including photographers, watch from on board a vessel as a motorboat pulls away with scuba divers on board.
00:08:56 The motorboat approaches FNRS III at sea. Several people including an officer and the scuba divers board FNRS III.
00:09:13 Underwater (b/w) film shows scuba divers adjusting Edgerton’s underwater camera equipment likely attached to FNRS III.
00:09:34 FNRS III bathyscaphe partly submerged.
00:09:41 FNRS III bathyscaphe with people on deck as a small boat approaches; scuba divers are in the water.
00:09:48 The motorboat leaves FNRS III with scuba divers on board.
00:09:55 Three men in a rowboat approach the vessel.
00:10:00 Officer (Cousteau?) on board the vessel adjusts an instrument (camera?).
00:10:06 Cameraman films from on board the rowboat as it approaches FNRS III attached to towboat.
00:10:17 Two men next to an instrument (?).
00:10:24 View into the bathyscaphe ‘sail’ shows FNRS III’s open entrance hatch and communications instruments.
00:10:29 A smiling young man stands within the bathyscaphe ‘sail’ entrance and then descends the hatch.
00:10:49 View from the bathyscaphe of the towboat with a big smokestack, motoring along.
00:10:54 Scuba divers swim away from a vessel marked “P771.”
00:11:04 A man adjusts devices on large motor engine (?).
00:11:10 Bathyscaphe navy commander Georges Houot (in officer’s uniform) and other men look down into the water from the bathyscaphe deck.
00:11:23 Scuba divers next to the bathyscaphe deck.
00:11:33 Scuba divers climb on board the secondary vessel (“P771”).
00:11:45 View into the hatch of the bathyscaphe.
00:11:49 Unclear view, possibly out of a porthole on board the bathyscaphe [very dark footage].
00:12:00 View from the bathyscaphe interior looking up towards the sky through the open entrance hatch.
00:12:03 Blue circle: a view into the sea from a bathyscaphe porthole; a scuba diver swims past the porthole.
00:12:09 A view of an instrument (camera?) dangling under water.
00:12:14 [?]
00:12:17 Comm. Houot comes up from entrance hatch into bathyscaphe ‘sail’ on deck, and waves at cameraman (Edgerton?).
00:12:24 Houot is silhouetted on the bathyscaphe deck, seen from the rowboat.
00:12:33 Houot is silhouetted on the bathyscaphe deck, seen from another vessel.
00:12:42 A motorboat approaches the town shore, with what is likely Edgerton deep-sea camera equipment held in place at the bow by an officer.
00:012:51 Cameraman (Edgerton?) displays pages from a National Geographic Magazine article titled, “Photographing the Sea’s Dark Underworld” (April 1955 [107.4], pp. 523-37) with pages being flipped open to view a photograph of a tripod fish.
00:12:56 Film ends.
00:13:02 © 2010 MIT credits.

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