Extreme Environment Engineering Departement
Hyperbaric Experimental Centre
When Henri G. DELAUZE founded COMEX in 1961, commercial diving was restricted
to civil engineering operations at depths not exceeding 5 to 30 metres.
Divers have used compressed air since the 19th century but air limits their depth of
intervention to 30 metres, exceptionally to 50-60 metres, due to the narcotic potency of
nitrogen and the density of the breathed gas that become serious physiological
Between 1965 and 1975, the industry had to invent it all and develop commercial diving:
decompression tables, bounce dives and saturation dives, support vessel with dynamic
As early as 1964, COMEX started the construction of its first Hyperbaric Experimental
Centre or C.E.H. (Centre Expérimental Hyperbare).
A team of COMEX people, directed by the founders Henri G. DELAUZE and Dr. Xavier
FRUCTUS, was set up with doctors, engineers, scientific investigators along with deep
divers and technicians.
During 30 years, this COMEX team has brilliantly conducted more than 5300 operations
including nearly 2700 human experimental dives, either scientifically or equipment
The series of scientific dives, the goal of which was to progressively reach deeper
depths, has permitted to study the physiology of saturation diving with helium from 45 to
610 metres and with hydrogen from 70 to 701 metres.
HYDRA 8 :
Pipe line connection by divers at a depth of 534 m in high sea.
HYDRA 10 :
Still unbeaten world record at a depth of 701 m.
More than 400 different divers
participated to these dives, some of which lasting several weeks. The longest, in 1989,
lasted 74 days and was commissioned by the ESA (European Space Agency) and the
CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) for the first study of remote-medicine and
confinement conditions of the HERMES / COLUMBUS European space programme.
A 35-day Himalayan expedition, Everest – Comex 1997 mission, was simulated in
hypobaric conditions inside the infrastructure of the «hydrosphere» chambers.
A scientific study on increasing the physical performance of sports competitors
using pressurized oxygen took place in 2000 and 2001.