Michael Anderson deCamp, 85, of 417 S. Broad St, Edenton, NC, died
Tuesday, April 9, 2013 in his home. His life was a clear path; no
regrets, no guilt, no complications. He was a powerful force that will
Mr. deCamp was born in New York City, NY, and was a son of the
late Jesse Albert and Margaret Dodsworth deCamp. In addition to his
parents, he was preceded in death by his brothers, William Dodsworth
deCamp and Laurent deCamp.
A graduate of Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, CT, and later
in 1949 from Princeton University, he taught science for 20 years at The
Peck School in Morristown, NJ. Mr. deCamp was a prominent art
photographer with works in museums and publications throughout the
world. A pioneer in underwater shipwreck exploration and identifications
on the entire East Coast of the United States, he was the first sport
diver to go to the sunken Andrea Doria, off Nantucket, MA.
Surviving are his wife of 63 years, Wesley Martin deCamp; a son,
John A. “Jock” deCamp and wife Laurie of Nyack, NY; a daughter, Carly
deCamp Lober and husband Keith of South Lake Tahoe, CA; and three
grandchildren, Daisy Cassidy Diamonti, her husband A.J. and their son,
Jack of Novato, CA, George Michael Cassidy of Pacific Grove, CA and
Hayden Grace deCamp of Nyack.
In accordance with his wishes, no service will be held. Miller
Funeral Home & Crematory, Edenton, assisted the family with
In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Divers Alert Network, 6 West Colony Place, Durham, NC 27705
(From Miller Funeral Homes: http://millerfhc.com/
The Father of East Coast Wreck Diving, Michael “Mike” deCamp, has passed away
By Chuck Zimmaro
Mike deCamp’s contribution to the sport of scuba diving spanned over nearly sixty years.
Mike deCamp, first learned to dive in the Caribbean in 1954, and has
never looked back. A true pioneer in East Coast wreck diving, he first
started diving the shipwrecks off New Jersey in 1957, and continued to
dive them up until just a few years ago. He passed away peacefully at
home with his wife Wesley and family at his side on April 9th 2013.
Mike was 85 years old.
Already an accomplished amateur photographer in the early 1950s, it
seemed only natural for Mike to take his craft with him as he descended
below the waves. If it wasn’t for Mike deCamp, there would be no early
photographic records of such wrecks as the Stolt Dagali, Pinta, Texas
Tower, Ayuruoca, Varanger, USS Bass, USS San Diego, Oregon, U-boats 85,
352, and 853, along with many others. Time, and the sea have taken
their toll on these sunken ships and subs. Thanks to deCamp, they
continued to live on, and be recognizable as the majestic vessels they
Considered by many as the ’Father of East Coast Wreck Diving’, Mike
deCamp’s articles and photographs have offered an intriguing look into
the hidden world below the waves, and has given countless numbers of
divers a closer look at some of the marvelous wonders that await them
just below the waves off our eastern shores, and has inspired many to
take their cameras down to the wrecks.
In the early 1960s, deCamp was writing articles for Skin Diver
magazine and other popular magazines of the time. All of these articles
helped highlight the many fine shipwrecks that were right off the New
Jersey and New York shores. His stunning underwater photographs brought
to light the tragedy of a sudden collision, the massiveness of the
wrecks on the bottom, the destructive power of war at sea, and the
awesome destructive power of nature itself.
Mike deCamp was taking photos of shipwrecks before many of today’s
divers were even born; yet, mention the name "deCamp" and almost every
East Coast shipwreck diver knows whom you are referring to, and has seen
some of his photos.
Using a double hose regulator, an ill-fitting hard rubber, home made
wetsuit and primitive mask and fins, he was first to photograph the
wreck of the Dutch freighter PINTA shortly after it was rammed and sank 8
miles off Shark River Inlet, New Jersey in May of 1963. His black and
white photographs of divers wearing triple tanks gliding over the sunken
freighter appeared in LIFE magazine among others publications. Mike
also led the first team of divers to locate and dive the sunken section
of the Stolt Dagali.
He chartered a fishing trawler and went out to look for the wreck
three days after it sunk in late November 1964. He found the wreck by
first motoring downstream of the reported collision point, found a large
oil slick, then traveled upstream through the slick that covered the
ocean’s surface. He continued up the stream until he came to the point
where bubbles were breaking the surface. He had found the Stolt, miles
from its reported sinking location! Mike’s team also located and
recovered the only person found of the 19 souls lost when the Stolt went
On assignment for the National Geographic Society in 1965, Mike was
lead diver in a three-diver team conducting studies on seals in
Antarctica. deCamp dove in a ¼" wetsuit, wore twin 72cu.ft. steel tanks
and used his signature double hose regulator!
In 1966, Mike deCamp, along with other East Coast wreck diving
legend George Hoffman, organized the first charter to the Andrea Doria.
It was on Mike’s Doria trip the following year, 1967, that the compass
and binnacle were found and recovered. Mike deCamp, along with George
Hoffman and a handful of others were founding members of the Eastern
Divers Association, one of the pioneer diving organizations of the
1960’s and 1970’s that specialized in deep wreck diving. Mike was there
onboard many of those charters when a new wreck was found. It was Mike
deCamp’s Skin Diver article in January 1968, that heralded the
discovery of the American submarine, USS Bass, off of Block Island.
Mike had many many “firsts” when it came to diving, being either one
of the first divers on a particular wreck, or the first to photograph
the wreck or one of the divers who first properly identified a
particular here-to-fore unnamed shipwreck. Adding one more “first” for
Mike’s long list of ‘firsts’, was in 2010 when he was the “FIRST” to
receive the prestigious Pioneer of Northeast Diving award at the Beneath
The Sea conference in Secaucus, NJ.
Considered by many as the ’Father of East Coast Wreck Diving’, this
diving legend surely will be remembered and missed by thousands of
divers and diving enthusiasts for the many contributions he has given to
the scuba diving community and maritime history enthusiasts alike.
We remember you and will miss you Mike.