Andreas B. Rechnitzer

Andreas B. Rechnitzer

He has given over 50 years of dedicated service to undersea vehicles, diving, ocean technology and ocean sciences. Andreas B. Rechnitzer was born on November 30, 1924, in the small farming community of Escondido, California (north of San Diego).

He grew up in Escondido, exploring all the natural areas, especially the waterways. Rechnitzer even ventured to the ocean some 20 miles to the west in Oceanside, California. Andreas Rechnitzer began diving in 1942 as a free diver, mostly in La Jolla near San Diego and in Mexico to the south. While in college during World War II, Rechnitzer graduated from the U.S. Navy Midshipmen School at Fort Schuyler, NY, in 1945. He was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy Reserve. Rechnitzer received a B.S. Degree from Michigan State in 1947 and a M.S. Degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1951. While a doctorate candidate at Scripps, Rechnitzer and Limbaugh pioneered the use of scuba diving in ocean science. In 1951 Rechnitzer co-authored with Limbaugh the first civilian scuba training curriculum and safety rules, titled Diving Training and Field Procedures Syllabus. This was the very first scientific diving manual that was later used as the basis for training diving instructors for the huge sport diving community. When the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department recognised that sport diving was growing in their area, they set up a special Underwater Unit. Al Tillman (a Manager in the Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Department) and Bev Morgan (then a lifeguard for Los Angeles County) came to Scripps for guidance. Rechnitzer, Limbaugh and others trained them in the safe use of scuba and other aspects of diving. In 1954, Los Angeles County provided the first sport diving training course for Diving Instructors in the United States. Rechnitzer was part of that training program from the beginning. All of the other sport diver training programs in the U.S. came from the Los Angeles County Diving Instructor Program, which came from Scripps.

Rechnitzer and Limbaugh led the way in developing all types of diving techniques to conduct their scientific diving projects. Others were in this select pioneering group were Willard Bascom, Jim Stewart (later to become Scripps Diving Officer), Wheeler North, Ken Norris and Dr. Hugh Bradner (developer of the wet suit). Rechnitzer was involved in many research projects that took him diving all along the Southern California coast and down into Mexico on the Pacific and Sea of Cortez side of Baja California.

After receiving his doctorate at Scripps, Dr. Rechnitzer joined the Naval Electronics Laboratory (NEL) in San Diego as Deep Submergence Research Program Coordinator and Oceanographer. Dr. Rechnitzer was instrumental in proposing that the U.S. Navy buy the Trieste bathyscaph. Dr. Rechnitzer assembled a very dynamic, progressive small team of 16 specialists. As head of the Trieste Team, Dr. Rechnitzer made many dives in the Trieste down to depths of 18,150 feet (a world record dive at the time). Dr. Rechnitzer was the Scientist-In-Charge when the Trieste made her historic record dive to 35,800 feet off Guam on January 23, 1960. After leaving Rockwell in 1970, Dr. Rechnitzer was with the federal government for 15 years in Washington, DC, as the Senior Civilian Science and Technology Advisor to four successive Oceanographers of the Navy. Some of the positions Dr. Rechnitzer held include: Science and Technology Advisor, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Deep Submergence Systems Division (1970-1973); and Head, International and Interagency Affairs Branch, Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy (1974-1978); Professor (Adjunct) at the Naval Postgraduate School (1977). In 1974, Dr. Rechnitzer served as the U.S. Navy Maritime History Representative for a joint expedition (U.S. Navy/National Geographic Society/Duke University) to validate he discovery and location of the Civil War ironclad U.S.S. Monitor, sunk in 1862 after the famous Monitor and Marrimac battle off Hampton Roads, VA. The expedition was using the research vessel Alcoa Seaprobe.

Dr. Rechnitzer was Leader of several CEDAM International expeditions, including the discovery of the 1847 wreck of the English Royal Mail Steam Packet Company sail/sidewheeler ship Tweed on Scorpion Reef, Yucatan, Mexico. During 1968, he also led a CEDAM International expedition on the 1823 English merchantman Holiday on Scorpion Reef.

During his 31 years in the U.S. Navy Reserves, Dr. Rechnitzer served in the Pacific Theater on two PCE class vessels during World War II. He has been a prolific author, contributing greatly to the advancement of diving, deep submersibles and ocean sciences.

Dr.Rechnitzer has received many awards and honours: The Distinguished Civilian Service Award; the first recipient of the Richard Hooper Day Award; Honourary Citizen, City of San Diego; Honourary Life Membership, National Geographic Society; Outstanding Man of the Year Award, San Dieguito Chamber of Commerce (1960 and 1961); Honoured Photographer at the International Underwater Film Festival (1961); the NOGI Award for Sciences the Underwater Society of America the NOGI Award for Distinguished Service from the Underwater Society of America (1989); Fellows Award, Marine Technology Society, Washington, DC (1981); Lockheed Award for Ocean Science and Technology (1990); the NOGI Award for Sports &Education from the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences (1999); the Roger Revelle Award from the San Diego Oceans Foundation (2000); and other honours.

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