USS Petrel Football Helmet
USS Petrel (ASR 14) football helmet in the collection of the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum. U.S. Navy divers repurposed this 1950s-era football helmet for use aboard USS Petrel (ASR 14), a Navy submarine rescue ship, to protect their heads during jostling rides inside USS Petrel’s submarine rescue chamber. In 1966, the helmet became a memento marking Petrel’s involvement in an international accident after the mid-air collision of two American Air Force planes near Palomares, Spain, dropped a hydrogen bomb into the Mediterranean Sea. USS Petrel provided deep-sea support during the 80-day mission to find and recover the missing weapon. Navy divers from USS Petrel who helped search for the bomb signed the helmet to commemorate their participation in the operation, which came to be known as the Palomares Incident. The hydrogen bomb was safely recovered from 2,900 feet on April 7, 1966. Note: Although a diver spelled it differently on the helmet, “Palomares” is the correct spelling of the Spanish city’s name.