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Marvin McCamis

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death October 10, 2004, of Marvin J. McCamis of Port St. Lucie, Florida, at St. Lucie Medical Center. He was 80.

Marvin McCamis was born October 18, 1923 in Lebanon, Indiana, and attended Dover High School in Dover, Indiana, receiving his high school diploma while serving in the U.S. Navy from 1941 to 1961. His Navy experience included service aboard eight submarines and a submarine tender, including the X-1, an experimental submarine the Navy was developing. He worked briefly at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, NH, as an electrician before retiring from the Navy in 1961 as a first class electrician to join the fleet reserve. He repaired outboard motors and boats at a marina in Hampton, NH for a year, and also served as an electrician during construction of the submarine USS John Adams at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Marvin McCamis joined the Institution staff in January 1963 as chief engineer and pilot for the submersible Alvin project that was just getting underway. With significant experience in electro-mechanical design and hydraulics systems, McCamis quickly became involved in the design and construction of Alvin. When sea operations began with the sub he served a pilot, surface controller and as one of the principals of Alvin operations.

In 1966 he participated in the recovery of a hydrogen bomb lost off Spain in the Mediterranean after an airplane collision, receiving a Meritorious Service Award from the Secretary of the Navy for his efforts. The success of the bomb search was a major turning point in Alvin’s career, showing the value of the sub as a legitimate tool. He was promoted to Research Associate in 1966, a position he held until leaving the Institution in 1977 and moving to Florida. Author or co-author of five scientific publications, he was a charter member of the Deep Submergence Pilots Association, and was an active member of The Explorers Club.

Survivors include his wife, Martha McCamis of Port St. Lucie, FL; a son, Marvin J. McCamis, Jr. of Littleton, MA; two daughters, Kathleen Diffin of Princeton, ME, and Morna Crafford of Rockland, ME; a brother, Darrel McCamis of Arkansas; a stepdaughter, Patricia Blackmon of Pelion, SC; two stepsons, John Queenan of Harwich, MA, and Jay Queenan of Falmouth, MA; 12 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.