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Clive Cussler, Maritime Adventurer and Author, Passes Away at Age 88

In a life of exploration, Cussler discovered over 60 shipwrecks and published over 85 oceanic adventure novels.
By Alexandra Gillespie | Updated On March 4, 2020
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Clive Cussler, Maritime Adventurer and Author, Passes Away at Age 88

Across more than 85 novels that sold north of 100 million copies, Cussler’s tales of aquatic exploration enthralled millions globally. Dirk Pitt, Cussler’s most famous character, continually defied the odds in his daring exploits working as a maritime engineer at the National Underwater and Marine Agency, a fictional government entity. Cussler gained literary fame for his third book, Raise the Titanic, a Cold War adventure published in 1976.

Imagination became reality for Cussler. In 1979, he used his literary fortune to start a real-life foundation named after his fictional National Underwater and Marine Agency. Through NUMA, Cussler chartered expeditions to locate undiscovered shipwrecks. These voyages uncovered more than 60 wrecks, including the confederate submarine H.L. Hunley off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. NUMA also found the Carpathia, a Titanic rescue boat that later also sank, and the U-boat that sank the Lusitania. NUMA distributes wreck artifacts to nonprofits, universities and governments.

His first nonfiction book, The Sea Hunters (1996), documents his expeditions uncovering historic treasures lost to the waves. The Maritime College in New York awarded him a Doctor of Letters the next year, considering The Sea Hunters his thesis.

Cussler spent much of his pre-literary career intertwined with the maritime world. He became a certified diver while stationed by the Air Force in Hawaii during the Korean War. He later went on to work in the advertising department of Aquatic Marine Corp.

Fans expressed their gratitude online for his work and inspiration after Cussler’s family announced his passing: