Henri Germain Delauze was born in the South of France in 1929. He was awarded a degree in engineering from the Ecole Superieure des Arts et Metiers in 1946. Delauze learnt to dive during his military service in Madagascar. He used his skills to work for companies specialized in diving equipment and undersea works and worked several times for the Cdt Cousteau in the 1950’s. He was awarded a Master of Science in Marine Geology at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1960. He then spent 3 months at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at La Jolla in California with the idea of preparing a doctorate in two years.
During his stay in the United States, Henri G. Delauze acted as consultant during 3 months at the US Navy base in San Diego, and organizes tests in high sea on the project of protection of military submarines against shock waves by a curtain of air bubbles emitted by the submarine. He also conducts many dives as a geological consultant for California’s offshore oil in Monterey Bay.
At the end of 1960, the Delauze family decided to return to France.
In 1961 he founds the Comex to run an incredible industrial and human challenge: the conquest of the depths. He created an hyperbaric experimental center where scientists and engineers could study the effects of pressure on divers and develop new subsea techniques. He personally participated in the first dives with helium at depths of 335m and 360m during which the high pressure nervous syndrome was discovered and described. Under his leadership Comex developed many of the technologies now used by all the offshore industry such as the diving spread configurations, hyperbaric welding, cold and hot tapping, abrasive jetting and underwater NDT. In 1977 the Janus IV experience took 6 divers for a simulation work at 460 meters with 2 divers reaching 501 meters. Later during the 8 days Hydra VIII operation, a pipeline was successfully connected at a depth of 520 meters. Henri G. Delauze passed away in January 2012.
“It is in Madagascar that I finally discovered the live sea. I started diving but I did not even have a pair of flippers, just an old mask made with small pieces of rubber. I got to know the sea of the 50s and abundance of species. it’s really what brought me the love of the sea.”
Henri Delauze
(Image: The birth of the Comex supporting the offshore oil drilling/Mediatheque de la Mer)