Viking Dry Suit 60th Anniversary
The Viking rubber dry suit, by many professional and commercial divers around the world seen as the standard equipment for diving in contaminated water, celebrates it’s 60th anniversary. It started in the early 50′s with an initiative from the Norwegian Navy reaching out to a local rubber company. The first suits of natural rubber and without valves and zipper, were produced and delivered in 1952.
It all started in Norway after the end of the second world war. A small rubber manufacturing company called Vestlandske Gummivarefabrikk A/S was approached by Captain Lt. Ove Lund from the Norwegian Navy to make them a rubber dry suit. The first suits were produced and delivered in 1952. The suits were manufactured from natural rubber, and had no zippers or valves. The suit was inflated with air from the mask which was attached to the suit, and on ascent, the air was vented through the cuffs. Initially these suits were never used below a depth of 10 metres.
In the 1960’s, an ex Norwegian navy diver called Jorn Stubdal, who had a company called Thommes Diving, introduced Stig Insulan who was a valve maker with his own company AB Dykmaterial, to Kare Ebeltoft who was the sales manager for Vestlandske Gummivarefabrikk.
Stig Insulan then worked with Vestlandske Gummivarefabrikk and developed an automatic exhaust valve through which the divers were able to make more easily controlled ascents. Stig and Jorn worked closely together to make continuous improvements to these early rubber diving suits. The company changed its name to Viking Stavanger A/S in 1973, and from there a number of improvements came along. In 1978 the Viking Sport 90X and the MK 12 suits for the US Navy were introduced. In 1972, 700 Viking suits were delivered to the US Special Forces, through work done in export markets by Jorn Stubdal. Jorn went later on to become manager of Viking America in 1983.
Viking rubber dry suit – 1950′s Viking rubber dry suit – 2010′s
In 1986 Trelleborg AB purchased Viking Stavanger A/S, and in 1989 production was moved from Norway to Ystad in Sweden. Development of the Viking products and brand continued. A PU suit called the XTREME was added to the portfolio. In 2006 Trelleborg acquired Hunter Diving, and these products were integrated within the Viking portfolio adding a new line in trilaminate and stretch fabric dry suits. In 2007, a new revolutionary rubber suit called the Viking HDS was introduced. By this time, Viking rubber suits were accepted globally as being the world leader for rubber suits and contaminated water diving.
In 2007, production was moved to a brand new Trelleborg facility in Tauragé, Lithuania, where production continues to this day. In April 2012, a new PU suit called the Viking HAZTECH was launched, and in May 2012, Trelleborg Protective Products was acquired by Ansell Ltd and renamed Ansell Protective Solutions.
The future for Viking diving looks assured – With the help of our global offices, sales teams, and of course our supportive distributors and dedicated end users we look forward to many more years of Viking diving suits.