The food service planned for Sealab III is as interesting as that planned for space flights. Whereas most foods used or planned for use during space missions are considered "tomorrow foods" by the general public, all foods planned for Sealab III are "today foods" because they are available for restaurant and institutional feeding and many are even available in supermarkets for home use. Even though Sealab III will have no rated cook on board, and despite the cooking limitations imposed by the pressurized helium-nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere, aquanauts will eat meals of fried chicken, hamburgers and French fries, spaghetti and meat balls, chili, beef stew, and many other favorite foods of Navy men.
The need for variety and for familiar foods has been stressed by Captain George Bond, Chief Medical Officer and Principal Investigator for the Sealab III phase of the Navy's man-in-the-sea program. Since the Navy Subsistence Office had not participated in food plans for Sealabs I or II, Captain Bond has explained in detail how the experience gained during these operations had proven the importance of good food and an organized food service system. For Sealab I there was no clearly defined food service program and DO planned menu. Because of the many technical problems to be resolved before the experiment food was of minor concern. Someone simply sent one of the divers to buy enough canned foods to provide meals for 3 weeks under the sea. The shopper, who happened to be extremely fond of Mexican foods, stocked Sealab I with cases of chili con came and tamales, but with little else. It was probably fortunate that bad weather conditions shortened the 21 - day experiment to 10 days, because the men had had more than enough of this food.
Although a reasonably varied menu consisting of canned foods and some dehydrated foods was used for Sealab II, the provision of nourishing, satisfying meals was, according to Captain Bond, one of the most annoying problems encountered in the 45-day operation. There were no organized meals; the divers prepared food when they wanted it, perhaps six or seven times a day' From time to time the men requested that some roasted, grilled, or fried meats be sent down to them because they were tired of meat-and-gravy combination dishes. Their pancakes scorched on the bottom and wouldn't cook on the top, fingers and toast burned, and peanut butter consumption rose steadily. Although the aquanauts averaged a 5-lb weight gain, there was general dissatisfaction with the food.
In May 1966, when the Navy Subsistence Office was requested to develop a food service system for Sealab III, Captain Bond and Comdr. Jackson Tomsky, On-Scene Commander for  Sealab III, briefed us about future plans and furnished some ground rules which would affect the food service system.
For successive 12-day periods, five 8-man teams would live in and work out of a habitat in ocean depths of 450 to 600 ft off San Clements Island, Calif. During the 60-day operation, experiments in oceanography, physiology, deep-sea ocean salvage, equipment performance, and construction would be carried out. Because of the physical demands, the complexity of tasks the teams would undertake, and the psychological effects of living under these unusual conditions, Captain Bond requested that meals furnish 4500 calories per man per day, be satisfying, and be as normal as possible within the following limitations:
In addition to menus, preparation instructions, loadout and replenishment schedules, recommendations on food preparation equipment, and coordination of requisitioning, procurement, and positioning of all food supplies were needed.
Figure 1 shows Sealab III. The overall length is 62 1/2 ft; its width, 19 ft; its height, 38 ft; and its weight, 299 tons. The galley is in the center section. Dry storage is overhead in the section to the right of the galley, and the freezer is in the lower right section . Galley equipment consists of an infrared oven, a 4-burner electric hotplate, a small refrigerator, and hot and cold running water. The sleeping/dining area is in the section to the right of the galley. Figure 2 shows an artist's conception of the surface support ship and Sealab III. The USS Elk River (IX - 501), built originally as a Landing Ship, Medium Rocket, was modified to support underwater programs such as Sealab III. This ship provides stowage for the various gases required in the Sealab experiment, the command and communications center for Sealab III, the physiological monitoring and medical center, two deck decompression chambers, and two personnel transfer capsules. Figure 3 shows the deck decompression chamber. The plan calls for four men to enter each chamber for compression to a pressure of 270 psi (requires 24 hr). Then, four men will enter each pressurized personnel transfer capsule (fig. 4) for descent to the habitat. When they arrive there, the Sealab III Food Service System will be put to the test.
In developing any food plan, the first logical step is to determine relative acceptance of different foods. Since the Navy Experimental Diving Unit is located about a block away from the Navy Subsistence Office, it provided an ideal, though unusual, site for a test galley and, in addition a cooperative group of taste-test panelists: Navy divers in training for Sealab III. The first acceptance tests conducted were on the excellent freeze-dehydrated entrees developed by the Army...
...Natick Laboratories for the Long Range Patrol Ration. These entrees were ideal from the standpoints of stowage, stability, and ease of preparation. Although the divers thought the entrees were amazingly good, they rejected them completely as far as Sealab III food plans were concerned because of the small piece size and (in their opinion) the similar appearance of different entrees.
Next, the acceptances of precooked frozen entrees and selected canned entrees were tested. For maximum speed and ease of reconstitution of these entrees, a microwave oven was first necessary. Microwave tubes were tested under simulated atmospheric conditions of Sealab III and were ruled out because helium seepage rendered them inoperable. An infrared oven was the checked out and approved for use. Using the oven, we prepared and conducted acceptance tests on selected precooked frozen and canned-entrees. The divers rated these entrees highly acceptable and stated that they would be willing to eat some of them as often as twice a week, and many, as often as once a week.
For maximum stowage efficiency and for simplification of the food service system aboard Sealab m, we developed a 6-day-cycle menu. Each team will repeat the cycle once during its 12-day stay on the bottom. Remembering that the Sealab II aquanauts had tired of meat and gravy....
...combinations, we made a special effort to find suitable precooked frozen or easy-to-prepare meats that were packed without gravy. The most easily obtainable and most common meat in this category was the frankfurter; another was boneless cooked ham. Two other popular entrees, fried chicken and hamburgers, both precooked and frozen without sauce or gravy, are also included in the menus and will help to satisfy the divers' desires for plain and familiar meats.
It was uncertain that we could serve hamburgers for awhile, though, because of a problem related to Sealab m's atmospheric conditions. When the precooked hamburgers were heated in the infrared oven, additional fat rendered off. Sealab medical officers were concerned that resulting acrolein production would be a problem in the Sealab m atmosphere. But we were determined to find a way to serve the aquanauts hamburgers, so we experimented. We found that placing the precooked frozen hamburgers in hamburger buns and wrapping them in aluminum foil eliminated the acrolein hazard. When the hamburger is heated, the fat renders into the bun. This method was tested in atmospheric conditions simulating those of Sealab m and no problems with acrolein resulted. Other entrees in the 6-day menu are pot roast of beef, chili con came, beef shortribs, roast pork loin, roast turkey, Swiss steak, beef stew, and spaghetti and meat balls.
Since fresh egg cookery was ruled out, breakfast menu planning was challenging. Although, after several failures, Sealab II aquanauts were able to prepare a "crepe" version of pancakes, we decided to take the work and worry out of their cooking with precooked, frozen pancakes. These, along with precooked frozen French toast, plain and cheese omelets, ham, and canned corned beef hash and creamed dried beef, will provide varied, hearty, and satisfying breakfasts.
The rest of the food items in the menus (vegetables, cereals, desserts, beverages, etc. ) are all in either ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat-and-eat forms. Fresh bread and some pretrimmed fresh produce items will be furnished every 4 days by means of a pressurized container that is used to send mail and other supplies back and forth between the habitat and the surface support ship.
All dry-storage foods, frozen items to support the first three teams, and perishable bread and produce will be preloaded. Frozen foods for Teams 4 and 5 and perishable foods will be replenished according to an approved schedule.
The menus list items and quantities of each needed for 8 generous portions. Preparation instructions will guide each "cook of the hour" on what to do first and how to proceed, with step-by-step directions. The aquanauts will eat three regular meals together each day. A fourth meal,  consisting of soup and sandwiches or snacks, will be available for each man to prepare when he wants it. Fruit juices, cocoa, milk, coffee, and tea are also provided in sufficient quantities for between-meal use if desired.
Daily weight checks on each aquanaut for 3 days before compression and for 3 days after decompression are planned. Other than weight check, no nutrition-related studies have been included in the physiological evaluations in Sealab III. No doubt there will be verbal reactions to the meals during the operation. In addition, in order to document the acceptance of individual menu items the aquanauts will complete food acceptance reports. An analysis of these reports along with data on usage of individual items will permit an objective evaluation of Sealab IIl's food service system.