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Wet Suit Pursuit Hugh Bradner s Development of the First Wet Suit Carolyn Rainey Archives of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography University of California San Diego La Jolla CA 92093 0219 November 1998 SIO Reference Number 98 16 In the 100th anniversary issue of Sunset Magazine published May 1998 the ongoing timeline of major events says that in 1952 UC Berkeley physicist Hugh Bradner invented the wet suit This single fact summarizes a more complex story In the spring of 1951 Bradner decided to spend some weekend time improving the equipment for the navy frogmen Soon thereafter he sent ideas and concepts of the wet suit to UC Berkeley physicist Lauriston C Larry Marshall who was involved in a U S Navy National Research Council Panel on Underwater Swimmers In the fall of 1951 the effort to actively develop the wet suit began when colleagues at the Berkeley Radiation Lab joined Bradner in the fabrication and testing of various materials At the end of 1949 the U S Marine Corps U S Navy and National Research Council agreed to work together using scientific applications to solve amphibious operational problems A committee was formed under the chairmanship of UC Berkeley engineer Murrough P Mike O Brien Several government panels met to discuss and watch East Coast and West Coast underwater demolition teams in action Their views were recorded in the Hahn Bascom Gerdes preliminary survey report distributed in October 1951 1 The navy terminology was changing from UDT s to the broader term of underwater swimmers In December 1951 the Swimmer Symposium was held in Coronado California This symposium brought together operational technical civilian and military people to discuss mutual problems and ideas The National Research Council in cooperation with the Italian French and British governments consolidated information about the physical psychological and physiological effects of underwater blasts on swimmers At that time Hugh Bradner a designer and physicist at UC Berkeley s

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