After yesterday’s oil rig explosion off the Louisiana coast, 13 Mariner Energy oil rig employees were forced into the water wearing protective Gumby suits. This second recent mishap in the Gulf of Mexico has sparked major curiosity over the term “Gumby suit.” What exactly is this suit, you ask?
Put simply, a Gumby suit is an immersion/survival suit meant to protect the body from the elements when forced to abandon ship. Made of fire-retardant neoprene which is also used in laptop cases and wetsuits, Gumby suits are waterproof and help protect from hypothermia. Although bulky, Gumby suits can help the wearer stay afloat due the minute air bubbles in the neoprene material.
But why the name Gumby suit? Yes, you thought right. The suit is named after the bendy 1960’s clay character of the same name. Unlike the clay character who is green, the suits are usually red, yellow or orange with reflective tape making them easier to spot out at sea. While not the most fashionable of garments, these one-size-fits-all suits serve a purpose. Thanks to the Gumby suits, the 13 crew members on the rig were rescued and able to return home safely.