1990 Jury Member

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Location: United States

Don Walsh
United States, Born 1931

A specialist in submersibles, engineer and oceanographer, Don Walsh was one of the first two men to dive in a bathyscaphe to the deepest point in the world's oceans. He took a major role in the United States Antarctic Program, and Walsh Spur, near Cape Hallett, was named in recognition of his efforts. He was founding director of the Institute of Marine and Coastal Studies and is currently president of IMI (International Maritime Incorporated) in California. 


Don Walsh has been involved with the oceans for over 40 years. Growing up on San Francisco Bay, he joined the United States Navy in 1948, won an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated with a degree in engineering. He then served in a variety of postings in submarines for 16 years, and his last sea duty was as commanding officer of a submarine in the U.S. Pacific Fleet.


ln 1959, he was assigned as first Officer-in-Charge of the Navy Bathyscaphe Trieste and in early 1960, Lieutenant Walsh and Jacques Piccard took the Trieste to the deepest point in the world's oceans (to a depth of nearly 11,000 metres). ln recognition of this world record, President Eisenhower presented medals at the White House to Walsh, Piccard and two other members of the project team. ln addition, Walsh was designated as the US Navy's Submersible Pilot Number One.


ln the mid-1960s, while a graduate student in oceanography at Texas A & M University, Walsh became one of the first oceanographers in the U.S. to study the oceans from aircraft and spacecraft and, with NASA and Navy experts, to operate a spacecraft oceanography project at the university. While serving as a special assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research and Development, Walsh was assigned responsibilities for Navy support of the U.S. Antarctic Program. During this time, he participated in Deep Freeze '71 in the Antarctic.


Retiring from the Navy as a captain in 1975, Walsh accepted an appointment as the founding director of the Institute for Marine and Coastal Studies at the University of Southern California. ln addition, he was appointed a full professor in ocean engineering. ln 1976, Professor Walsh also founded a consultancy company, International Maritime Incorporated.

Other 1990 Jury Members