Encouraging Excellence

Phil Nuytten discusses his career in sub-aquatic equipment design and ocean exploration, for which he was invested into the Order of Canada.



Screen Description: [Screen Description: Text on a grey background reads, “Canadian Honours, Phil Nuytten, Order of Canada (Officer).” There is a viceregal lion above the text.]

[Screen Description: Several words characterizing honours recipients move across a black screen. The screen reads, “Canadian honours presented by the Governor General”.]

[Screen Description: Phil Nuytten is sitting behind a desk in an office, speaking to the camera. The screen reads, “Phil Nuytten, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Officer of the Order of Canada.”]

[Screen Description: Throughout the video, the screen alternates between Phil Nuytten and a series of scenes featuring diving suits in a warehouse and Phil Nuytten testing new diving suits.]

[Phil Nuytten:] When the water closes over your head and something that you’ve built keeps you alive, I never got over that.

Every time I build something that works, I feel the same rush.

My name is Phil Nuytten.

I am in the business of building submarines and diving suits that allow divers to go to depths that you cannot go with scuba diving or any conventional type of diving.

I started I was 12 years old, diving and spearfishing, and I always wanted to go deeper.

So, when I was 13, I built my first scuba set and I never looked back.

This is suit number 1, you see, the very first suit that I designed and constructed in 1985.

The suit itself is nothing particularly unusual or new, but the important thing is the rotary joints.

These joints rotate.

Today, every suit of this type all use the same system that I developed those many, many years ago.

The idea of being a big ocean explorer was not so much on my mind as it was to go deeper and to see what’s there.

And then years later, as the oceans started to become polluted, we wound up doing a tremendous amount of work with Greenpeace, so they could learn about the parts of the oceans they were trying to protect.

One of our major breakthroughs had to do with submarine rescue.

We built this machine, and it was so successful that the U.S. Navy now has this as their standard submarine rescue system.

The idea that we could design and build something that is used by one of the largest navies in the world to save lives, I’m very proud of that.

Even the most complex systems start out as sketches like this.

Submarine escape systems, submarine rescue systems, suits that have been used by navies all over the world, designed and built right here, in Canada, more specifically in British Columbia, and more specifically in this office.

I’m delighted that the equipment that we build and the crews that we’ve trained, that all of that culminates in this award.

Anybody who wants to start inventing things, start with your ideas, sketch them out if you can, even if the drawing is one that no one understands except you.

That’s all that’s important, is that you have these now, forever.

[Screen Description: Text on a grey background reads, “The Order of Canada honours exceptional Canadians for their extraordinary and sustained achievements and their service to others and to Canada, gg.ca/honours.” The insignia of the Companion, Officer and Member of the Order of Canada are above the text.]

[Screen Description: A viceregal lion on a grey background.]