Jun 8, 2021 | News

Why Kirby Morgan Helmets are the Industry Standard


Written by PDTC

If you’ve ever googled commercial diving, you may see pictures of people performing all sorts of jobs; underwater welding, saturation diving, search and rescue diving, but one thing all these images have in common are those distinctive bright yellow helmets. You may already know that Kirby Morgan manufactures these helmets, but you may be wondering why Kirby Morgan Helmets are the industry standard in commercial diving.

Commercial diving helmets actually began as smoke helmets for firefighters in the 1820s but after shifting applications to allow for underwater usage, the commercial diving industry was born. The first helmets were made of copper, extremely bulky, and would flood if used in any position except vertical. It was a start but, needless to say, if this limitation of mobility were to last, it would stifle the growth of the industry. One man, Bev Morgan, worked as a commercial diver for many years, regularly designing and making his own diving equipment. After meeting Bob Kirby, they began to manufacture commercial diving helmets and Kirby Morgan was born.

Kirby Morgan Corporation was, and is, dedicated to the development of lightweight, comfortable, professional diving gear. Though their name has changed a few times, their passion and commitment towards diving and diving equipment remained steadfast. There have been many iterations of Kirby Morgan helmets. It began with the MMX-1, their first fiberglass free-flow mask, and in the late sixties the old metal helmets were decommissioned, making way for models like the Band Mask, and Clam Shell. After persistent commitments to engineering, and many years of research, the iconic bright yellow helmets, known as the SuperLite® 17B hit the market and changed the face of commercial diving forever.

The SuperLite® 17B Commercial Diver’s Helmet was introduced in 1975. It was the culmination of all the years of testing and alterations by Kirby Morgan. This helmet set the working standard for the commercial diving industry worldwide for many years. Many thousands of underwater hours have proved the design to be dependable, comfortable, and extremely safe. The 17 continues to be the most widely used commercial diving helmet in the World. Check out the newest version of this helmet here.

If you’re new to the industry, you may be surprised to learn that not all of these iconic helmets are the same.

For instance, one of their other widely-used models is the KM37 which sports the Quad-Valve™ exhaust system, providing less breathing resistance than the 17’s single valve exhaust while still keeping the hat extremely dry. It has the SuperFlow® 350 regulator which is a proven design that provides excellent breathing characteristics over a vast array of depths. It’s considered to be yet another standard of not only the commercial diving industry but also the U.S. Navy.

In large part, the success of these and other Kirby Morgan helmets has to do with their consistent ability to listen to the needs of commercial divers in the field. Constant input from them, their partners in the military, and public service/safety divers has kept Kirby Morgan products at the cutting edge. When employers and employees buy and use Kirby Morgan products, they are backed by years of experience and thousands of hours in the field.

Having a company built by someone who knew the challenges he and his peers faced, Bev Morgan built a corporate culture centered around one of the most important core values: the ability to listen. It is with this input, and their constant striving to engineer the most comfortable and reliable helmets in the industry that Kirby Morgan remains a company with no true equal in the field.

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