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Precontinent III

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Precontinent III

Postby shipstamps » Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:45 am


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To commemorate the research work of six French oceanauts, who spent six weeks in the summer of 1965 living in a specially built bathysphere more than 300 ft. below the waters of the Mediterranean, a new 1 franc stamp was issued showing the weird-looking craft Precontinent III and some of its crew on the sea bottom. This was the third of a series of underwater life experiments organised by the French underwater explorer Comdr. Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
Carried out in June, the experiment took place off the Iles du Levant, on the French Riviera, and the men lived in the bathysphere, which is about 20 ft. in width. As can be plainly seen on the stamp design the oceanauts were able to leave their underwater craft from a specially constructed exit in the bottom of the bathysphere, which stood on four legs. Their reactions to life 340 ft. below sea-level were studied by a team of scientists.
In a similar experiment in the Red Sea in 1963, five men lived for 29 days in a submarine village, and Comdr. Cousteau said they were fresher when they came to the surface than their colleagues who had been following their progress from a boat.
The Precontinent III (E.P.3) descended to a depth of over 100 metres in the summer of 1965, a fact commemorated by the caption under the bathysphere on the stamp picture. A number of these underwater observation craft have appeared on stamps and no two of them are alike. Most of them are shown on the stamps of Monaco, namely Alexander the Great's Diving Bell, Halley's Diving Bell of 1716, the Galleazzi observation chamber, Williamson's "Photosphere" of 1913, the Beebe-Barton Bathysphere of 1930, Piccard's bathyscaphe Trieste of 1953, while a French stamp of 1963 shows the bathyscaphe Archimede. The Precontinent 111 however is the only underwater observation craft illustrated on stamps in which the crew leave the vessel for research purposes, a new stage in oceanography.
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