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:: Don Walsh, Ph.D. - Science - 1989

Don Walsh   Don Walsh joined the Navy in 1948 as an aircrewman in torpedo bombers. Entering the Naval Academy in 1950, he graduated with the Class of 1954. After two years at sea on a cargo ship in the Amphibious Forces he entered submarine school in 1956. Subsequently he served in the submarines Rasher (SSR-269), Sea Fox (SS-402), Bugara (SS-331), and commanded Bashaw (AGSS-241).

In 1959 Lieutenant Walsh became first Officer-in-Charge of the Bathyscaph Trieste at the Navy Electronics Laboratory in San Diego. Designated USN Deep Submersible Pilot #1 in 1959, he also became the first submersible pilot in the US. In January 1960, Walsh and Jacques Piccard piloted Trieste to the deepest place in the World Ocean: 35,800 feet. For this achievement, Lieutenant Walsh received a medal from President Eisenhower at ceremonies in the White House.

From 1970-75, Commander Walsh was on duty in Washington DC serving as Special Assistant (Submarines) to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research and Development (ASNR&D) and as Deputy Director of Navy
Laboratories. He retired in 1975 to accept a professorship of ocean engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). There he was founding Director of the Institute for Marine and Coastal Studies (IMCS) with rank of dean. He left USC after 8 years to form a consulting practice, International Maritime Incorporated (IMI), a company he runs today.

He was educated at the Naval Academy, Texas A&M University (MS and PhD in oceanography), and San Diego State University (MA in political science). In 1973-74 he spent 14 months as Resident Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian.

Dr. Walsh is author of over 200 ocean-related publications and has given over 1,500 lectures, TV and radio programs in 64 countries. Since graduation from the Naval Academy, his travels have taken him to about 112 nations throughout the world.

For the past four decades, Dr. Walsh has also worked in both Arctic (25 expeditions) and Antarctic (25 expeditions) including the North and South Poles. His first trip to the Arctic was in 1955, the Antarctic in 1971. From November, 2002 - February, 2003 he made a 64 day circumnavigation of the continent in a Russian icebreaker. The "Walsh Spur" (ridge) near Cape Hallett is named for him in recognition of his contributions to the US Antarctic Program.

In 1999, he dove 8,000 feet to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near the Azores at the Rainbow Vents hydrothermal vents field. In July 2001, he dove 12,500 feet to the wreck of RMS Titanic. And in July 2002 he dove on the WWII German Battleship Bismarck at 15,500 feet in the Atlantic. In all these operations, he used the Russian Mir submersibles that are rated for 20,000 feet.

Among other awards, in February, 2001 Dr. Walsh was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In March 2001, he was awarded the Explorers Medal by the Explorers Club. Both of these honors recognize his four decades of work in the design, construction and operation of undersea vehicles. In November of the same year the French Jules Verne Aventures organization awarded him its "Etoile Polaire" medal to celebrate "The Greatest Explorations of the 20th Century". In 2001 he was also cited as one of the great explorers in the Life Magazine book, "The Greatest Adventures of All Time".

Don lives on a ranch in rural Oregon with his wife, Joan. When not busy traveling he flies his experimental biplane around the area.


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