In the Late 1960s, the USSR Built Stunning Houses at The Bottom of the Black Sea, Where Aquanauts Later Lived For Days

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Beginning in 1962, the era of deep-sea exploration took an interesting turn. Inventor Jacques-Yves Cousteau constructed the first underwater house, 'Conshelf I.' This French success inspired Soviet enthusiasts to research the possibility of also building underwater. Several research stations were built at the bottom of the Black Sea within a few years. [i]

Because of increased environmental pressure when immersed under water, the concentration of gases dissolved in the blood rises. If this is not controlled, nitrogen or oxygen poisoning of the body occurs. The video below details the effects underwater pressure has on the body. [ii]

Ichtyander-66

This underwater dwelling was "named after the protagonist of the book and film "Amphibian Man." It was the first house in the USSR built at the bottom of the Black Sea. The house was made from steel sheets and had a table and two shelves for sleeping, as would be seen in a train compartment. Breathable air was supplied to the dwelling using a surface compressor. The home was lowered by ballast on Aug. 19, 1966. On Aug. 23, the first aquanaut settled in the house, living in it for three days. [iii]

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Ichthyander-66 in the Black Sea, 1966Spec.tass.ru

Chernomor-1 and -2

By 1968 the Russians had tested several styles of underwater homes. The Chernomor-1 was a much larger dwelling with four compartments, including a shower and toilet, a coffee maker, and scientific equipment. Many of those staying did so for five to seven-day periods. [iv]

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The layout of the Inside of Chernomor 1Spec.tass.ru

Several aquanauts in Chernomor-1 needed "emergency surfacing" and "showed signs of caisson disease," while "others caught cold." Researchers noticed inhabitants of the house became irritable if the water temperature fell or there was a noticeable increase in humidity inside the house. [iv]

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Underwater Chernomor-1 prior to its launch, 1968Spec.tass.ru

Chernomor-2 was a noticeable upgrade as the house received electricity from the surface with emergency batteries installed as a backup. The length of time for underwater stay was stretched to 12 days, and individuals could "read, [and] listen to music that was broadcast to them from the surface." They were even able to go on underwater night walks. The program is said to have ended after the collapse of the Soviet Union. [v]

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Chernomor-2 above the water, 1969Spec.tass.ru

Present-day Key Largo, Florida, hosts Jules' Undersea Lodge, a completely underwater hotel situated 20 feet beneath the surface, as seen in the video below.

References

[i] TACC, Go ahead, aquanauts! How the USSR built houses at the bottom of the Black Sea, (2022)

[ii] Ted-Ed, The effects of underwater pressure on the body - Neosha S Kashef, (Apr. 2, 2015)

[iii] TACC, Go ahead, aquanauts! How the USSR built houses at the bottom of the Black Sea, (2022)

[iv] Id.

[v] Id.

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Currently pursuing a Juris Doctor at Western State, writer Charnell Gilchrist is writing her way through law school.

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