The US Navy has used several decompression models from which their published decompression tables and authorized diving computer algorithms have been derived. The original C&R tables used a classic multiple independent parallel compartment model based on the work of J.S.Haldane in England in the early 20th century, using a critical ratio exponential ingassing and outgassing model. Later they were modified by O.D. Yarborough and published in 1937. A version developed by Des Granges was published in 1956. Further developments by M.W. Goodman and Robert D. Workman using a critical supersaturation approach to incorporate M-values, and expressed as an algorithm suitable for programming were published in 1965, and later again a significantly different model, the VVAL 18 exponential/linear model was developed by Edward D. Thalmann, using an exponential ingassing model and a combined exponential and linear outgassing model, which was further developed by Gerth and Doolette and published in Revision 6 of the US Navy Diving Manual as the 2008 tables.

Besides the air and heliox tables for open circuit bounce dives, the US Navy has published a variety of hyperbaric treatment schedules, decompression tables for open and closed circuit heliox and nitrox, tables incorporating surface decompression on oxygen, a system for modifying tables for use at high altitudes (Cross corrections), and saturation tables for various breathing gas mixtures. Many of these tables have been tested on human subjects, frequently with an end result of symptomatic decompression sickness, and for this reason their test results are considered some of the most reliable available.

US Navy tables have generally been freely available for use by the general public, and have often been modified to further reduce risk, as commercial and recreational divers do not always fit the physical requirements for military divers, may not have a recompression chamber on site to manage decompression sickness on those occasions when it does occur, and may prefer to operate at a lower risk than military personnel. Several recreational diving tables were originally based on US Navy diving tables.

C&R tables

In 1912, Chief Gunner George D. Stillson of the United States Navy created a program to test and refine Haldane's tables.[1] This program ultimately led to the first publication of the United States Navy Diving Manual and the establishment of a Navy Diving School in Newport, Rhode Island. Diver training programs were later cut at the end of World War I.

The first decompression tables produced for the U.S. Navy were developed by the Bureau of Construction and Repair and published in 1915, and were consequently known as the C&R tables.[2] They were derived from a Haldanean model, with oxygen decompression, to depths up to 300 ft on air, and were successfully used to depths of slightly over 300 ft[3]: 3–1 

1937 tables

1939 Heliox tables

In 1939, after the recovery of USS Squalus, tables were published for surface supplied Heliox diving.[6]: 1–17 

1956 tables

Recompression tables

See also: Hyperbaric treatment schedules

Although recompression and slow decompression were the accepted treatment, there was not yet a standard for either the recompression pressure or the rate of decompression. This changed when the first standard table for recompression treatment with air was published in the US Navy Diving Manual in 1924. These tables were not entirely successful - there was a 50% relapse rate, and the treatment, though fairly effective for mild cases, was less effective in serious cases.[9]

In 1965,[clarification needed] M.W. Goodman and Robert D. Workman introduced recompression tables using oxygen to accelerate elimination of inert gas.[15][16]

Saturation tables

See also: Saturation diving § Decompression from saturation

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2023)

U.S. Navy E-L algorithm and the 2008 tables

See also: History of decompression research and development § U.S. Navy E-L algorithm and the 2008 tables

In 1983, Edward D. Thalmann published the E-L model for constant PO2 nitrox and heliox closed circuit rebreathers,[17] in 1984 published U.S. Navy Exponential-Linear algorithm and tables for constant PO2 Nitrox closed circuit rebreather (CCR) applications,[18] and in 1985 Thalmann extended use of the E-L model for constant PO2 heliox closed circuit rebreathers.[19]

In 2007, Wayne Gerth and David J. Doolette published VVal 18 and VVal 18M parameter sets for tables and programs based on the Thalmann E-L algorithm, and produced an internally compatible set of decompression tables for open circuit and CCR on air and nitrox, including in water air/oxygen decompression and surface decompression on oxygen.[18]

In 2008 the US Navy Diving Manual Revision 6 was published, which includes a version of the 2007 tables by Gerth & Doolette.[14] The air decompression tables in Revision 6 of the U.S. Navy Diving Manual combine decompression tables for air diving with schedules for decompression on air, air and in-water oxygen, and surface decompression using oxygen. The tables were computed using version VVal-18M of the Thalmann exponential-linear decompression model.

VVAL 18 algorithm

Main article: Thalmann algorithm

The Thalmann Algorithm (VVAL 18) is a deterministic decompression model originally designed in 1980 to produce a decompression schedule for divers using the US Navy Mk15 rebreather.[20] It was developed by Capt. Edward D. Thalmann, MD, USN, who did research into decompression theory at the Naval Medical Research Institute, Navy Experimental Diving Unit, State University of New York at Buffalo, and Duke University. The algorithm forms the basis for the US Navy mixed gas and standard air dive tables published in US Navy Diving Manual Revisions 6 and 7.[21] This decompression model is also referred to as the Linear–Exponential model or the Exponential–Linear model.[22]

US Navy Diving Manual Revision 7

See also: U.S. Navy Diving Manual

As of January 2023 the currently approved decompression tables are listed in Revision 7 of the US Navy Diving Manual.

This section needs expansion with: differences in the tables in R7. You can help by adding to it. (January 2023)

US Navy dive computers

See also: Dive computer

In 1984 the US Navy diving computer (UDC) which was based on a 9 tissue model by Edward D. Thalmann of the Naval Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU), Panama City. Divetronic AG completed the UDC development – as it had been started by the chief engineer Kirk Jennings of the Naval Ocean System Center, Hawaii, and Thalmann of the NEDU – by adapting the Deco Brain for US Navy warfare use and for their 9-tissue MK-15 mixed gas model under a research and development contract with the US Navy.[citation needed]

In 2001, the US Navy approved the use of Cochran NAVY decompression computer with the VVAL 18 Thalmann algorithm for Special Warfare operations.[23][24][25]


See also: Decompression theory § Validation of models

It is important that any theory be validated by carefully controlled testing procedures. As testing procedures and equipment become more sophisticated, researchers learn more about the effects of decompression on the body. Initial research focused on producing dives that were free of recognizable symptoms of decompression sickness (DCS). With the later use of Doppler ultrasound testing, it was realized that bubbles were forming within the body even on dives where no DCI signs or symptoms were encountered. This phenomenon has become known as "silent bubbles". The presence of venous gas emboli is considered a low specificity predictor of decompression sickness, but their absence is recognised to be a sensitive indicator of low risk decompression, therefore the quantitative detection of VGE is thought to be useful as an indicator of decompression stress when comparing decompression strategies, or assessing the efficiency of procedures.[26]

The US Navy 1956 tables were based on limits determined by external DCS signs and symptoms. Later researchers were able to improve on this work by adjusting the limitations based on Doppler testing. However the US Navy CCR tables based on the Thalmann algorithm also used only recognisable DCS symptoms as the test criteria.[27][22] Since the testing procedures are lengthy and costly, and there are ethical limitations on experimental work on human subjects with injury as an endpoint, it is common practice for researchers to make initial validations of new models based on experimental results from earlier trials. This has some implications when comparing models.[3]: Ch10 

This section needs expansion with: [28][29]. You can help by adding to it. (January 2023)

Cross altitude corrections

See also: Altitude diving

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2023)

See also


  1. ^ Stillson, G.D. (1915). "Report in Deep Diving Tests". US Bureau of Construction and Repair, Navy Department. Technical Report.
  2. ^ a b c Powell, Mark (2008). Deco for Divers. Southend-on-Sea: Aquapress. ISBN 978-1-905492-07-7.
  3. ^ a b c d Huggins, Karl E. (1992). Dynamics of decompression workshop. Course Taught at the University of Michigan.
  4. ^ US Navy. "Diving in the U.S. Navy: A Brief History". Naval History and Heritage Command website. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  5. ^ Acott, C. (1999). "A brief history of diving and decompression illness". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal. 29 (2). ISSN 0813-1988. OCLC 16986801.
  6. ^ US Navy (1 December 2016). U.S. Navy Diving Manual Revision 7 SS521-AG-PRO-010 0910-LP-115-1921 (PDF). Washington, DC.: US Naval Sea Systems Command.
  7. ^ Des Granges, M. (1956). Standard air decompression tabLe. Research Report 5-57 (Report). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Navy Experimental Diving Unit.
  8. ^ a b Beckman, Edward L. (October 1976). Recommendations for Impmved Air Decompression Schedules for Commercial Diving (PDF). Sea Grant Technical Report UNIHI-SEAGRANT-TR-76-02 (Report). NOAA Office of Sea Grant. Retrieved 3 January 2022.
  9. ^ Berghage, T.E.; Vorosmarti, J. Jr.; Barnard, E.E.P. (1978). Recompression treatment tables used throughout the world by government and industry. Technical Report NMRI-78-16 (Report). US Naval Medical Research Center.
  10. ^ a b c d e U.S. Navy Department (1943). Diving Manual. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  11. ^ a b c d "Treatment of decompression sickness". BUMED News Letter. 3 (10): 5–6. 12 May 1944.
  12. ^ a b c d e f US Navy Department (1958). Diving Manual, NAVSHIPS, 250-538. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  13. ^ a b c d e U.S. Navy Department (1975). U.S. Navy Diving Manual NAVSEA 099-LP-001-9010. Vol. 1, Change 1. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  14. ^ a b c d US Navy (2008). US Navy Diving Manual, 6th revision. United States: US Naval Sea Systems Command. Retrieved 15 June 2008.
  15. ^ How, J.; West, D.; Edmonds, C. (June 1976). "Decompression sickness and diving". Singapore Medical Journal. 17 (22): 92–97. PMID 982095.
  16. ^ Goodman, M.W.; Workman, R.D. (1965). Minimal-recompression, oxygen-breathing approach to treatment of decompression sickness in divers and aviators. Technical Report NEDU-RR-5-65 (Report). United States Navy Experimental Diving Unit. PMID 5295232.
  17. ^ Thalmann, E.D. (1983). Computer Algorithms Used in Computing the Mk 15/16 Constant 0.7 ATA Oxygen Partial Pressure Decompression Tables. NEDU Report No. 1-83 (Report). Panama City, Florida: Navy Experimental Diving Unit.
  18. ^ a b Gerth, Wayne A; Doolette, David J. (2007). VVal-18 and VVal-18M Thalmann Algorithm – Air Decompression Tables and Procedures. TA 01-07, NEDU TR 07-09 (Report). Navy Experimental Diving Unit.
  19. ^ Thalmann, E. D. (1985). Development of a Decompression Algorithm for Constant Oxygen Partial Pressure in Helium Diving. NEDU Report No. 1–85 (Report). Navy Exp. Diving Unit Res.
  20. ^ Thalmann, Edward D.; Buckingham, I.P.B.; Spaur, W.H. (1980). "Testing of decompression algorithms for use in the U.S. Navy underwater decompression computer (Phase I)". Navy Experimental Diving Unit Research Report. 11–80.
  21. ^ Staff (September 2008). "VVAL-18M: New algorithm on deck for Navy divers". Diver Magazine. 33 (7).
  22. ^ a b Thalmann, E.D. (1985). Air-N202 Decompression Computer Algorithm Development. NEDU Report No. 8-85 (Report). Navy Exp. Diving Unit Res.
  23. ^ Butler, Frank K.; Southerland, David (2001). "The U.S. Navy decompression computer". Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine. 28 (4): 213–28. PMID 12153150.
  24. ^ Butler, Frank K. (2001). "The U.S. Navy Decompression Computer". Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine. 28 (4): 213–228. PMID 12153150.
  25. ^ Lander, Carlos E. (2 May 2021). "They Helped Foment a Dive Computing Revolution: RIP Cochran Undersea Technology (1986-2020)". Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  26. ^ Hugon, Julien; Metelkina, Asya; Barbaud, A; Nishi, R; Bouak, F; Blatteau, J-E; Gempp, E (September 2018). "Reliability of venous gas embolism detection in the subclavian area for decompression stress assessment following scuba diving". Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine. 48 (3): 132–140. doi:10.28920/dhm48.3.132-140. PMC 6205931. PMID 30199887.
  27. ^ Thalmann, E.D. (1984). Phase II testing of decompression algorithms for use in the U.S. Navy underwater decompression computer. Research report 1–84 (Report). Navy Exp. Diving Unit.
  28. ^ Parker, E.C; Survanshi, S.S.; Thalmann, Edward D.; Weathersby, P.K. "Developing the New US Navy Tables" (PDF). AquaCorps. No. 8. pp. 54–60. Retrieved 3 January 2023.
  29. ^ Gerth, Wayne A.; Doolette, David J. (June 2009). Schedules in the Integrated Air Decompression Table of U.S. Navy Diving Manual, Revision 6: Computation and Estimated Risks of Decompression Sickness. TA 08-20 NEDU TR 09-05 (Report). Panama City, FL: Navy Experimental Diving Unit.