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Specialists cleaned the historic underwater vehicle "Dolphin II"

Workers from the Shipwreck Conservation Centre in Tczew have cleaned the historic underwater vehicle “Delfin II”. The Shipwreck Conservation Centre in Tczew received a vehicle weighing one and a half tonnes “Delfin II” – an underwater vehicle designed for deep-sea research. It was constructed by Antoni Dębski and built under the auspices of the Pomeranian
Published: February 23, 2022 - 09:00
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 00:07
Specialists cleaned the historic underwater vehicle “Dolphin II”
Workers from the Shipwreck Conservation Centre in Tczew have cleaned the historic underwater vehicle “Delfin II”.

The Shipwreck Conservation Centre in Tczew received a vehicle weighing one and a half tonnes “Delfin II” – an underwater vehicle designed for deep-sea research. It was constructed by Antoni Dębski and built under the auspices of the Pomeranian Branch of the Society of Friends of Earth Sciences. The object, bought from a private owner, is now awaiting a detailed conservation process so that it can soon please the visitors’ eyes.

Specialists from CKWS in Tczew clean the Delfin II vehicle
Specialists from CKWS in Tczew clean the underwater vehicle Delfin II Photo: NMM
A bit of history

The bathyscaph without its own propulsion, with a dry cabin, was used to observe trawls, nets, the bottom and marine fish biology. “Delfina II” was operated on the research ship r/v “Profesor Siedlecki”. In May 1974 it participated in the so-called African cruise under the scientific direction of Dr. Zbigniew Ziembo. The research was conducted on the shelf of north-west Africa, at the height of the Spanish Sahara. During the cruise more than 100 successful hauls were made with the “electrified” trawl, including two observed from the underwater two-man towed vehicle “Delfin II”. In July of the same year “Professor Siedlecki” went on a cruise in the Baltic Sea, during which test fishing with the so-called line trawl was carried out in the Gotland Deep. The leader of the scientific team carrying out these trials was Professor Andrzej Ropelewski.

“Dolphin II” is a two-person gear observation vehicle. During operation the vehicle was towed. In the central part there is a superstructure with a hermetically sealed hatch. There is also a second hatch, provided for emergency lowering of the vehicle. On either side of the body are ballast tanks filled with compressed air, the supply of which was contained in two 50-litre cylinders at 150 at. Nine portholes directed forward, sideways, downwards and backwards allowed observation and taking photographic pictures – explains Wojciech Joński of the NMM’s Oceanography Department.

Cleaning of a vintage vehicle
After the completion of conservation, the vehicle will undoubtedly go on display in the museum Fot. NMM

The proper positioning of the vehicle in the water was regulated by the length of the extending cable and the inclination of the vertical and horizontal rudders. The stability of the vehicle was ensured by large ballast fins in the shape of skids, fixed under the bottom of the body. They also served as the vehicle’s stand during transport or storage.

Exhibition in the museum

Now we have a lot of work ahead of us, as we realise that our vehicle currently has no display value. However, it is worth noting that at first glance, the vehicle’s corrosion is not extensive. The actual condition will be assessed after a thorough washing. The next stage will be a possible replacement of damaged sheet metal elements. We will also unscrew the portholes in order to thoroughly wash the windows. Further work will include sandblasting the metal elements and putting the vehicle together. We will choose the type of paint which will make it possible to exhibit the object in the future not only under the roof, but also outside. – says Irena Rodzik, head of the Museum Collections Conservation Department at the National Museum in Wrocław (NMM).

The conservation process of “Dolphin II” may take several months. Museum officials plan to present the vehicle in 2023, during an exhibition dedicated to underwater discoveries.

The purchase of the “Delfin II” underwater vehicle was financed thanks to a grant from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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