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Don Walsh, the Legendary Explorer Who Reached the Bottom of the Ocean, has Passed Away

Published: November 14, 2023 - 17:35
Updated: November 14, 2023 - 17:35
Don Walsh, the Legendary Explorer Who Reached the Bottom of the Ocean, has Passed Away

Don Walsh, retired US Navy captain, ocean explorer and researcher, participant in the first expedition to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in 1960, has passed away at the age of 92.

As reported by the United States Naval Institute, Don Walsh passed away this past Sunday, November 12th, at the age of 92. Born in Berkeley, California, Walsh joined the US Navy in 1948 and began his amazing adventure.

At first he served as an aircrew member, and after graduating from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, he was appointed as a submarine officer. Initially commanding the USS Bashaw (SSKS-241), he later became the US Navy’s first submersible vehicle pilot.

Expedition to the bottom of the Ocean

On 23 January 1960, as a US Navy lieutenant, he took part in one of the greatest adventures of his life. As part of Project Nekton, commanding the bathyscaphe Trieste, he set off with Swiss engineer and oceanographer Jaques Piccard to the bottom of the ocean. Don Walsh and Jaques Piccard became the first people to reach the deepest place on Earth – the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

The successful expedition, which the whole world was talking about, changed almost everything in his life. Doors to many offices in the US Navy and the US Congress stood open. Now Don Walsh was able to make efforts that aimed at better understanding and exploration of the oceanic depths. This led to many of the projects he carried out in the decades that followed.

Don Walsh and Project Nekton crew
Don Walsh and Project Nekton crew

Don Walsh Scientific Work

In the following years, he obtained a PhD in oceanography and lectured at the University of Southern California. He was an active supporter of the study of the ocean depths and, among other things, the education of US Navy officers in this field. He used to say that they knew a lot about sailing on or under the ocean, but not enough about the ocean itself.

He dedicated his entire life to better understanding the world beneath the surface. A love to the depths is what he instilled in the next generation of researchers, explorers and enthusiasts. Don Walsh was also a consultant on many projects aimed at reaching the deepest places in the world. For his dedication and commitment to ocean exploration, he received countless awards and honours.

Until the very end, he remained active in the scientific field. He never let his inner flame of explorer and man curious about the world dim in him, even for a moment. Certainly, a special moment in his life was when, in June 2020, 60 years after the expedition with Piccard, his son Kelly Walsh reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench together with Victor Vescovo.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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