Remembering Octave Léandri, fundamental Cousteau Team technician

By Franck Machu.

Octave Leandri, affectionately named Titi, joined the Calypso team on August 31, 1951, as she was getting prepared for her first mission to the Red Sea. He came to assist Chief Engineer René Montupet. It was in the Red Sea during this first expedition that he began scuba diving in the middle of vibrant reefs. It was also the time of  adventure, when the spirit of independence was fundamental. Titi quickly made himself indispensable. His role was not limited to the smooth running of the ship’s mechanics on mission, but also to the countless periods of work in the shipyard, where the Calypso gradually takes on the shape of an oceanographic ship.

Research mission in the Persian Gulf

At the beginning of the year 1954, Octave was on the geological mission in the Persian Gulf, in search of Abu Dhabi’s oil. He shares this mission with his younger brother Maurice, hired as a bosco. Maurice has a physical actor of peplums and often appears in the picture. Octave is a discreet man who seldom puts himself in the field of the objective. It takes a keen eye to catch a glimpse of it on photos or films.

The campaign in the Gulf gives rise to 400 sampling stations, a work of sea convict to which no man aboard escapes, in suffocating heat and waters populated by sharks. No equipment will forget to break down and give them a hard time. The mission lasts for months with almost no stops and puts the bodies and morale to the test. Upon return to France, a long permission is granted. The Léandri brothers have definitely earned their Calypsonian stripes.

Titi Léandri, however, resigns a few days after leaving the filming mission of Le Monde du Silence in 1955. He was seduced by a mechanic’s job on a yacht in Cannes.

The return to the Cousteau Team

In 1962, he became chief mechanic aboard the Winaretta Singer, the Monaco Museum ship headed by Cousteau. From 1963 to 1966, he was chief engineer aboard the Navit, the support ships of the Bathyscaphes.

From 1966 to 1972, he was again in the Cousteau team, where his technical sense and his astute spirit worked wonders in the OFRS (French Office for Underwater Research). Titi brings a lot to the installation of the hyperbaric chamber which equips the submarine base of the OFFRS, where will be carried out the experiments of dives with respiratory mixtures.

The end of the Cousteau adventure

He will be like most of the technicians of the team dismissed in 1972 following the closure of the OFRS and will integrate, with other elders of the team, the COMEX of Henri Delauze, where he will work 10 years until his retirement.

Titi Léandri was a man appreciated by all for his skill, modesty and friendliness. He was one of those who make everything go well in the eighth day of the life of a boat, of those who made the Cousteau team.

The Cousteau Society send their heartfelt condolences to her family and friends.