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Scuba Diving/shark mesh or chainmael strength

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Question
Hi Mike,
This is really going to be an "off the wall"
question. To cut to the chase, I'm wondering if
shark mesh, or what ever it's called, could be used as a sort of add-on protection for the
military to decrease the severity of bullet wounds.
I don't think it would completely protect, but
maybe save a life and be more flexable to use
underarm side area?
Thanks,
kathy

Answer
Hi Kathy

I must admit, this is an unusual question...but an interesting one.  Let me preface my answer by saying that I have some experience in ballistics so the answer isn't quite as "off the wall" as you might think.

The Shark Suits you refer to are actually composed of small steel rings about three-eights of an inch across and interlocked into a chain mail covering.  Then this chain mail cloth is fabricated into the suit.  The suit works by preventing the shark's teeth from penetrating any farther than they can be inserted into the small spaces in the rings.  The points of the teeth can actually pass through the rings but they can't go far enough to penetrate the quarter-inch thickness of the neoprene wetsuit worn under the chain mail. The suit is very heavy (about 40 pounds) and would be very cumbersome if worn out of the water.

As for bullet resistence, there really isn't any.  Bullets are travelling at very high velocities and will easily destroy the rings on contact and pass completely through them.  If the bullet were travelling slowly, then the chain mail would probably stop it but that, obviously, isn't the case.  It would take several layers of chain mail (an impossibly heavy suit for a soldier to wear)to stop a bullet.

I applaud you for thinking of possible ways to prevent injury to our troops in service.  Being a veteran myself, I know that war is a nasty business and I'm all for anything which will lessen it's impact on humans.  It's ideas like yours which have led to many technological breakthroughs and I encourage you to keep thinking!!  

The fabric "Kevlar" works similarly to what you were proposing.  It's a soft, lightweight and very strong fabric which "gives" a little upon impact from a bullet. The energy of the bullet is absorbed before the bullet actually penetrates the fabric.  It's woven, like the chain mail, but the weave is much tighter and will resist a bullet strike much better than the chain mail.  Kevlar can be layered without adding a lot of weight or bulk and is much better suited for protecting a human.

Kathy, I hope this answers your question.  Should you need further information, please write back!!



Sincerely,

Mike Giles
Mike's Dive Center
mikescuba.com  

Scuba Diving

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Mike Giles

Expertise

I am a Master Scuba Instructor with over 6000 dives. I can answer questions on general diving techniques, diving education and diver training. I can offer suggestions on the use and selection of proper dive equipment, general maintenance of dive equipment as well as diving equipment repair. I can also offer suggestions on air conservation techniques and buoyancy control. As a dive shop owner for 19 years, I can offer suggestions on starting/running a dive business.

Experience

I have been diving for 55 years, teaching diving for 50 years and owned a diving business for 19 years. I am a certified regulator repair technician for several different brands and a certified scuba cylinder inspector.

Organizations
I am currently a member of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), Divers Alert Network (DAN), International Resort and Retailer Association and the Better Business Bureau

Publications
Undercurrent magazine and Divers Chapbook

Education/Credentials
I am a Master Scuba Diver Trainer with 15 distinct specialty instructor ratings, Rescue Diver Instructor, Medic-First Aid Instructor and I have degrees in Chemical Engineering, Biology and Radiologic Technology.

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