Sadly, Don Walsh died on November 12, 2023. Please visit our In Memory page for more information.

Professor (Courtesy)

Vita (from 2012)

Captain Don Walsh USN (Ret), PhD

Biographical Information

Esteemed oceanographer Don Walsh was a courtesy professor of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. He was one of only three people to go to the bottom of the Mariana Trench—the deepest point of the world's oceans.

Throughout his distinguished career, Walsh received numerous national and international honors, including the Hubbard Metal, the highest honor of National Geographic; and the Distinguished Service Medal from the Theodore Roosevelt Association, where he was the youngest recipient since Charles Lindbergh. He was appointed by Presidents Carter and Reagan to the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere and was named one of the world's great explorers by Life magazine. Alongside esteemed figures such as Sir Richard Branson and Ted Turner, Walsh was part of the Ocean Elders program that aims to achieve enduring impact at scale in ocean conservation and sustainability.

Professional Activities and Qualifications

  • Explorer in deep oceans and the polar regions.
  • Oceanographer, physical oceanography, air-sea interaction and remote sensing
  • Ocean engineer, specialization in undersea technology and operations.
  • R&D program management at headquarters, university and Navy laboratory levels.
  • Earth remote sensing from aircraft and satellites.
  • Surface ship and submarine operations, 16 years at sea, including two commands with an additional two years of sea time in cruise and expedition ships.
  • Qualified in Submarines and for command of submarines 1957 & 1961.
  • Deep submersible vehicle design and operations, with dives in over 21 different manned submersibles.
  • Manned submersible pilot. Designated U.S. Navy submersible pilot #1. Most recent pilot experience was May, 2009.
  • Qualified Underwater Swimmer (SCUBA) diver (U.S. Navy), 1959.
  • Remotely operated vehicles (ROV) design and operations, both in Navy and commercial work
  • Ocean law and policy experience. Was member of State Department Law of the Sea Advisory Committee. Helped advise the U.S. delegation at the UN Law of the Sea Conference. Edited and contributed to several books and journals on law of the sea and ocean policy issues.
  • Government R&D management, 3.5 years as special assistant to the Secretary of the Navy for Research and Development, 1.5 years as Deputy Director of Navy Laboratories and 3.5 years as a project manager in a navy laboratory.
  • Extensive knowledge of international ocean industry. Have worked in 112 coastal nations throughout the world since 1960s and continue to maintain international network of contacts.
  • Business management experience through the founding, incorporation and day-to-day operations of International Maritime Incorporated (IMI), a consulting practice, for past 30 years. Acquisition experience in the purchase of Parker Diving in 1985. International experience through IMI participation in US-USSR (later Russian) joint venture, Soyuz Marine Service.
  • Non-profit organization governance as an elected director and officer of several organizations.
  • Current FAA licensed private pilot with multiengine, glider and seaplane ratings. Owned and flew experimental sport biplane based at Bandon, Oregon, 1998-2010.

See Vita (2012) for more information.