An atmospheric diving suit or ADS is a small one-man articulated submersible of anthropomorphic form which resembles a suit of armour, with elaborate pressure joints to allow articulation while maintaining an internal pressure of one atmosphere. The ADS can be used for very deep dives of up to 2300 feet (700m) for many hours, and eliminates the majority of physiological dangers associated with deep diving; the occupant need not decompress, there is no need for special gas mixtures, and there is no danger of decompression sickness or nitrogen narcosis. Divers do not even need to be skilled swimmers.
The ADS has variously been referred to as a Winnie the Pooh suit (because of its large head), armored diving skirt, articulated diving suit, Iron Duke, Iron Mike, and ‘deep-sea diving robot’. The term ‘atmospheric diving suit’ itself did not come into widespread use until the invention of the JIM suit in the early 1970s.
Atmospheric Diving Suits in current use include the Newt suit/Hardsuit, and the WASP, both of which are self-contained and incorporate propulsion units. The Newtsuit/Hardsuit is constructed from cast aluminum (forged aluminum in version constructed for the US Navy for submarine rescue), while the WASP is of glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) body tube construction. The upper hull is made from cast aluminum. The bottom dome is machined aluminum.