Graham Hawkes

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Graham Hawkes (left) with physicist David Callaway

Graham Hawkes (born 23 December 1947)[1] is a London-born marine engineer and submarine designer.[2] Through the 1980s and 1990s, Hawkes designed 70% of the manned submersibles produced in those two decades.[3] As late as 2007, he held the world solo dive record of 910 metres (2,990 ft)[4] in the submarine Deep Rover.[3]

Hawkes invented the first robotic machine gun,[5] the Telepresent Rapid Aiming Platform (TRAP), the first weapon he designed. He had been inspired to create a safer way for police to deal with situations after watching a shootout in North Hollywood, Los Angeles on television.[3]


In 1976, in association with OSEL of Great Yarmouth, Hawkes designed the one-atmosphere deep diving suit Wasp.[6][7] Two years later, he designed the one-man microsubmersible Mantis, which included remote manipulator arms.[8] A Mantis sub was used in the James Bond film "For Your Eyes Only",[4] which he himself piloted in a large tank at the Pinewood Studios[9]

Hawkes founded the San Leandro based firm, Deep Ocean Engineering (DOE), in 1981 with Sylvia Earle, his wife from 1986 to 1992.[3][10][11][12] DOE has produced over 300 ROVs.[3]

By 1982, he had completed the Challenger submersible, capable of diving 5,000 feet (1,500 m).[13]

In 1981, he designed the first of the Deep Rover-series of 1- and 2-man submersibles.[7][14] A Deep Rover submarine was used in the 3-D IMAX film "Aliens of the Deep".[4] In the same year,[9] Hawkes founded Deep Ocean Technology (DOT) with Earle.[10][11][13]

In 1985, the Deep Ocean Engineering team designed and built the Deep Rover research submarine, which operates down to 1,000 metres (3,300 ft).[15][16]

An insight into his personality was provided by a scene that occurred during the sea trials of the first Deep Rover vehicle.[citation needed] Operating near San Nicholas Island, California, from a converted mudboat the R/V Egabrag, the sub had been launched after dark with Hawkes as pilot. He had the descent depth every 100 metres, down to 1000 metres on the Underwater telephone (UQC). Amongst the people on the bridge of the R/V Egabrag, where the UQC was installed were the Captain and helmsman, his then wife Sylvia Earle, a reporter, cameraman and sound man from a San Francisco TV station, the Operations Manager from CANDIVE and the Diving Safety Officer from the University of Rhode Island, Phillip Sharkey. Hawkes reported, "1000 meters." There was a quiet ripple of applause on the bridge, and the reporter took the UQC microphone. He pressed the "push to talk" button and asked Hawkes, "What does it mean to you to be there, at 3000 feet?" The reporter was clearly expecting the flowery prose that Sylvia Earle was so justly famous for, but all he got from Hawkes was "It means my calculations were correct."[17]

This exploit, in 1985, set the world solo dive depth record in a submarine. (3000 ft/1000m off San Clemente Island on Deep Rover), which was soon repeated by Sylvia Earle, and another team member.[18][19]

In 1991, he made headlines when it was briefly thought that he and his team might have found the remains of 'Flight 19', missing in the Bermuda Triangle since 1945.[20]

Hawkes left the day-to-day operations of Deep Ocean Engineering to found Hawkes Ocean Technologies (HOT) in 1996.[21] HOT launched the Necker Nymph and DeepFlight Super Falcon which Hawkes designed.[22]

Hawkes completed the design for the Deep Flight II two-person submarine in 1998.[3]

In 2000, he completed the DeepFlight Aviator, the first positively buoyant submersible that relies on hydrodynamic forces on its wings for diving.[23][24] It was also the first research submersible to attain a speed of 10 mph underwater.[25] The first example of the type is called Spirit of Patrick.[26]

In 2008, Hawkes finished the first example of his design DeepFlight Super Falcon, which he subsequently delivered to venture capitalist Tom Perkins.[27]

In 2010, the first example of his DeepFlight Merlin design was completed and delivered to Richard Branson. It was named the Necker Nymph[21] and is a wet submarine that is positively buoyant and utilizes hydrodynamic forces to dive.[28]


  • Cambridge University Press, "Handbook of Phycological Methods", Mark M. Littler, Diane S. Littler, ed.s, 1985, ISBN 0-521-20049-0


Year Title Role Notes
1981 For Your Eyes Only Mantis Man


  1. ^ Times-News, "Graham Hawkes Is Racing To Ocean's Bottom", 5 September 1993, NYT Regional Newspapers
  2. ^ BBC News, "'Flying' submarines plumb hidden depths", Peter Day, 7 September 2010 (accessed 12 September 2010)
  3. ^ a b c d e f SF Weekly, "36,000 Feet Under the Sea", Lisa Davis, 10 June 1998 (accessed 12 September 2010)
  4. ^ a b c ANSYS Advantage, "Taking Next-Generation Submersibles to New Depths", A. Wright, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2007 [1] (accessed 12 September 2010)
  5. ^ Popular Science, "The Idea Man: Lethal robots? Who thinks up this stuff? Graham Hawkes, that's who", May 2005
  6. ^ Littler & Littler, p. 242
  7. ^ a b Marine Technology Society Journal, "The Coevolution of Undersea Vehicles and Deep-Sea Research", Bruce H. Robison, Volume 33, Number 4, 1999-2000, pp. 65–73 , doi:10.4031/MTSJ.33.4.7
  8. ^ Littler & Littler, p. 243
  9. ^ a b Milwaukee Journal, "Deep Rover May Be Your Undersea Car", Associated Press, 10 August 1983
  10. ^ a b Yeh, Jennifer. "Earle, Sylvia." Water:Science and Issues. 2003. (12 September 2010).
  11. ^ a b Water Encyclopedia, "Earle, Sylvia", Jennifer Yeh (accessed 12 September 2010)
  12. ^ Sea Technology, "Deep Ocean Engineering, Inc. -- a better underwater mousetrap", Vol. 32, no. 7, pp. 41–45. 1991, D.M. Graham
  13. ^ a b Spartanburg Herald-Journal, "Diver, Engineer Join Forces To Study Ocean", Associated Press, 10 January 1982
  14. ^ Littler & Littler, p. 245
  15. ^ English, JG (1987). "DEEP ROVER submersible operations for science". In: Lang, MA (Ed). Coldwater Diving for Science…1987. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences Annual Scientific Diving Symposium 31 October - 1 November 1987 Seattle, Washington, USA. Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2013.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  16. ^ Griffin, James J; Sharkey, Phillip I (1987). "Design of the next generation of research vessels". In: Lang, MA (Ed). Coldwater Diving for Science…1987. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences Annual Scientific Diving Symposium 31 October - 1 November 1987 Seattle, Washington, USA. Archived from the original on 15 October 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2013.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  17. ^ Earle, Sylvia, "Sea Change," Putnam Adult, 1995
  18. ^ New York Times, "SCIENTIST AT WORK: Graham Hawkes; Racing to the Bottom Of the Deep, Black Sea", William J. Broad, 1993 August 3 (accessed 25 March 2012)
  19. ^ Burnaby Mail, "Her Deepness drops in and warns of growing threat to the oceans", Deborah Smith, 23 November 2011 (accessed 25 March 2012)
  20. ^ Tim Golden (5 June 1991). "Mystery of Bermuda Triangle Remains One". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 September 2014. The undersea explorers who announced last month that they might have discovered five US Navy planes that vanished mysteriously in 1945, laying a foundation for the myth of a craft-swallowing Caribbean twilight zone, said that on closer inspection, the planes they found turned out not to be those of the fabled 'Flight 19.' ... Hawkes said at a news conference that in four of the five cases, the tail numbers of the planes his team had found did not match those of the lost aircraft.
  21. ^ a b New York Daily News, "Richard Branson's latest toy? An underwater plane called 'Necker Nymph'", Catey Hill, 1 February 2010 (accessed 12 September 2010)
  22. ^ The Australian, "Aussies help director dive to bottom of deepest ocean for Avatar 2", John Harlow, 13 September 2010 (accessed 12 September 2010)
  23. ^ Computer Graphics World, "Flying deep", P. Mahoney, March 2001, ISSN 0271-4159
  24. ^ New Scientist, "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea", M Schrope, February 2000
  25. ^ Popular Science, "Underwater Airplane Takes Flight: Graham Hawkes is the world's first waviator", Mark Schrope, April 2003
  26. ^ UPI, "In the Field: Flying beneath the sea", Lidia Wasowicz, 17 March 2003 (accessed 12 September 2010)
  27. ^ USA Today, "Personal submarine prepares for launch", Marco R. della Cava, 7 July 2008 (accessed 12 September 2010)
  28. ^ Luxist, "Branson Debuts New Submarine", Deidre Woollard, 30 January 2010 (accessed 12 September 2010)

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