The Navy One-Man One-Atmosphere Diving System (NOMOADS) was the first atmospheric diving suit designed and built by the U.S. Navy.
NOMOADS was a modification of commercial diving system JIM. The JIM suit was developed in the 1960s by Mike Humphrey and Mike Barrow of the British commercial firm Underwater Marine Equipment Limited (UMEL). Their development efforts were driven by the oil industry, which had begun working at depths greater than those that human divers in ambient pressure suits could work. By 1972, the JIM suit was in use by the oil industry for inspection of offshore drilling equipment, location and reocvery of anchor chains, bottom searches, and still photography.
The U.S. Navy tested the JIM suit in 1975 to investigate its capabilities. It determined that ADS like JIM were viable underwater tools for salvage work and submarine rescue missions. The Navy’s experiments with JIM spurred the development of Navy ADS. In1978, Dr. Arthur Bachrach initiated a biomedical assessment study of JIM-4, the sucessor to the original JIM suit. The research report Dr. Bachrach produced in 1981 defined the concept of a one-atmosphere diving suit and and offered useful background information for the NOMOADS program. Engineer Michael Troffer with NCSC used Dr. Bachrach’s findings to spur engineering studies of NOMOADS. Potential mission areas identified for NOMOADS included search, location, recovery, salvage, rescue work, underwater construction, explosive ordnance disposal, and saturation diving support.
The design of NOMOADS was similar to that of JIM, with a few key differences. Navy engineers replaced the magnesium alloy used for JIM suit torsos with carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) for the construction of the NOMOADS torso. They believed CFRP would be lighter and stronger than magnesium alloy. The CRRP torso was tested and evaluated extensively by NCSC Center for use in deep submergence systems. NOMOADS was also given a large, clear acrylic dome with extensive visibility, a change from the four small viewports that characterized the JIM suit.
NOMOADS had a maximum depth capability of 2,000 FSW, a maximum bottom time of 40 hours, and the capability to return to the surface from 1,000 FSW in about 10 minutes. Its one-atmosphere system afforded a dramatic advantage over saturation diving: whereas a saturation diver would need more than nine days of decompression after returning from 1,000 FSW, a NOMOADS operator needed no decompression time and ran no risk of decompression sickness.
NOMOADS was scheduled to reach Initial Operational Capability in FY 1994, but was never placed into Navy service. The successful development of the NewtSuit ADS rendered NOMOADS obsolete.