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FRED NOEL SPIESS

1919–2006

Elected in 1985

“For significant breakthroughs in ocean engineering, including FLIP, Deep Tow, precision benthic navigation, and exotic platforms.”


BY ROBERT A. FROSCH AND WILLIAM KUPERMAN


FRED NOEL SPIESS, husband, father of five, grandfather of eight, great grandfather of three, U.S. Navy submariner, deep-sea explorer and inventor, and Professor Emeritus of Oceanography at the Marine Physical Laboratory at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (MPL/SIO) at the University of California, San Diego, died on September 8, 2006. He was 86 years old.

Born in 1919, Fred earned his A.B. from the University of California, Berkeley, with a major in physics. From 1941 to 1946, he served in the U.S. Navy submarine force; he was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star for participating in 13 war patrols in enemy waters, the highest number of patrols by any individual. He remained a captain (retired) in the U.S. Naval Reserve until his death.

He left the Navy after the war “to study oceanography and make the Navy smarter,” he told a friend. He earned an M.S. in communications engineering from Harvard University (1946) and returned to the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a Ph.D. in physics (1951). After a short stint as a nuclear engineer at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, Schenectady, New York, he joined MPL/SIO, where he continued to work for the rest of his career. He was director of MPL from 1958 to 1980. He spent the year 1962–1963 as acting director of SIO and was director from 1964–1965. He then was an associate director of SIO until 1980. He also served as chairman of the Scripps Graduate



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