The Cousteau team is sad to learn that Claude Wesly has passed on. He was one of the first men to live and work underwater during the “Conshelf” experiments in the 1960s, and he died today at the age of 87. The world of diving has lost a legend, a pioneer and a warm and fun man who always had encouraging words.
You will really be missed, Claude! Thank you very much for having accompanied us all these years! Recently, we shared our joy with you after our contribution led to the inclusion of Shab Rumi atoll in a UNESCO World Heritage site , which was the site of your exploits with Commander Cousteau in the framework of the ” Pre-Continent Experience II in Sudan .
Your love of life and your desire to transmit to children will inspire us for a long time! We will do our utmost to carry the messages that were important to you dear Claude and we offer our condolences to your family and friends.
Born in 1930 in Malo-Les-Bains, France, Claude was a ski instructor, gym teacher and high-level competition swimmer before boarding the Calypso. In 1955 he observed people scuba-diving in the lake of Annecy and decided to try for himself. At the time, recalls Claude, they had no wetsuits and dove in sweatshirts.
Claude later began work around Marseilles as technical director of the local sailing club.
One day of 1960, he saw the Calypso sail into the harbor. Claude already knew Albert Falco, pioneer Calypso diver and director of a local dive center. One day Falco asked Claude if he would go on a dive with him. He took him “under his fin” and taught him to dive seriously.
Eventually, Claude was invited to try out on board Calypso. He joined the team composed of André Laban, Albert Falco, commander François Saoute and captains Cousteau and Alinat. The test is passed: Claude is not seasick on the rocky Calypso! He is evaluated on his character and attitude, and Simone Cousteau makes the final decision: he is in!
Claude worked on board Calypso as a diver, navigator, scientific diver and underwater film crew-diver. He is most famous for being the first man (with Albert Falco) to live and work beneath the sea during the Precontinent experiments led by Cousteau in 1962.
In the late 60s, Claude leaves for the USA to work on the development of the American undersea habitat programs and then with NASA in astronaut training.
When Jacques Cousteau created the Cousteau Society, he asked Claude to be in charge of communication with children. Ever since, Claude has been an inspiring speaker, sharing his passion for the exploration and the oceans with children throughout the world.
Claude remembers his selection on board Calypso:
“As I embarked on Calypso, Falco and Laban introduced me to JYC (Jacques-Yves Cousteau).
– Listen Claude, the team is unanimous. Will you stay with us? asked JYC.
– I am really interested, but I already have career plans in skiing and physical education… I want to become an inspector for the ministry of youth and sports.
– But I know this already!
– I’d like to discuss it with my family.
– Take a few days.”
I returned to the Calypso and saw Falco on board.
– So Claude? He asked.
– I’m coming with you.”
Source: Cousteau Divers