The Rolex Awards for Enterprise
An internationally recognized pioneer in the undersea industry, Phil Nuytten has spent 40 years creating deep-water dive systems that have opened the ocean’s depths to exploration and industry.
He has developed technology to allow deeper and longer underwater expeditions with increased safety. Nuytten’s hard-suits — the Newtsuit and the Exosuit — his deep-diving submersibles and his submarine rescue system are renowned worldwide. His equipment is used by the National Geographic Society and NASA, and is standard in nearly a dozen navies. Nuytten’s equipment and crews have been used in major oilfields, marine construction sites and sunken wrecks around the world. His record-breaking dives — in icy arctic waters — to the wreck of the Breadalbane earned him a place on the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1984.
Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Nuytten designed his first diving gear and opened Western Canada’s first dive shop when he was in his teens. His attention to detail — crucial in deep-sea diving — was apparent from the age of 12 when he apprenticed with a Kwakiutl master totem-pole carver in the Northwest Coast style — an art about which he is still passionate. In 1982, he published The Totem Carvers, a book which is now a standard reference text in Northwest nature ethnography studies. Nuytten is a Métis (an aboriginal group descended from Canadian fur traders) by birth, but was formally adopted into the Kwakiutl nation and is an advocate of the art and culture of these indigenous people.
Nuytten has received France’s prestigious Jules Verne Award for international sub-sea technology and membership in the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences Diving Hall of Fame and the Association of Diving Contractors International’s Commercial Diving Hall of Fame. His invention of a unique submarine rescue system is the U.S. Navy’s Standard Air-Transportable System. He continues to invent, design and fabricate other specialized systems for deep-ocean use.
Published in 2008