Clive Cussler was the founder of NUMA. The Grand Master of the American action adventure novel grew up in Alhambra, California. He later attended Pasadena City College for two years, but then enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War where he served as an aircraft mechanic and flight engineer in the Military Air Transport Service. Upon his discharge, he became a copywriter and later creative director for two of the nation’s leading ad agencies. At that time, he wrote and produced radio and television commercials that won numerous international awards including one at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
Cussler began writing in 1965 and published his first novel featuring Dirk Pitt® in 1973. His first non-fiction work, THE SEA HUNTERS, was released in 1996. Because of this work the Board of Governors of the Maritime College, State University of New York considered THE SEA HUNTERS in lieu of a Ph.D. thesis and awarded Cussler a Doctor of Letters degree in May of 1997.
Cussler founded the National Underwater & Marine Agency, (NUMA) in 1979 as a 501C3 non-profit organization that dedicates itself to American maritime and naval history. Cussler and his crew of marine experts and NUMA volunteers have discovered over 60 historically significant underwater wreck sites. After verifying their finds, NUMA turns the rights to the artifacts over to non-profits, universities, or government entities all over the world. Some of these finds include the C.S.S. Hunley, best known as the first submarine to sink a ship in battle; the Housatonic, the ship the Hunley sank; the U-20, the U-boat that sank the Lusitania; the Cumberland, sunk by the famous ironclad, Merrimack; the Confederate raider Florida; the Navy airship, Akron; the Republic of Texas Navy warship, Zavala, found under a parking lot in Galveston, Texas; and the remains of the Carpathia, the valiant ship that braved icebergs to rescue the survivors of the Titanic. In addition to being Chairman of NUMA, Cussler was a fellow in both the Explorers Club of New York and the Royal Geographic Society in London. He was also been honored with the Lowell Thomas Award for outstanding underwater exploration.
A noted collector of classic automobiles, Cussler assemble a large collection of custom coachwork cars from the 30s, 40s, and 50’s. The collection, along with memorabilia from NUMA’s past expeditions, is now part of the Cussler Museum, on display in Arvada, Colorado. Cussler passed in 2020 at the age of 88.