MTS Names Famed Inventor and Explorer as Honorary Member

Will Forman

The Marine Technology Society (MTS) has named Will Forman an Honorary Member of MTS for his exemplary achievements to advance marine technology in the areas of material science, deep sea submersible engineering, and mission critical operations.

Forman’s work has significantly impacted underwater vehicle technology for commercial, research and government applications. He is noted for designing the first American deep-sea submersible for the U.S. Navy in 1960, the Deep Jeep, which was rated to 2,000 feet.  In addition, he developed the Kumukahi submersible, considered to be the first acrylic hull submersible, for use in expeditions and research missions. Forman’s Deep View submersible was fabricated with the first large glass partial-pressure hull rated to 1,500 feet. Forman is also noted for his innovations in the use of syntactic foam, which is now ubiquitous in all undersea vehicles. In addition, his development of acrylic as a pressure hull resulted in its use on most modern submersibles today.

His marine technology innovations include the development of robust life support monitoring systems, material sciences of glass as a pressure vessel component in submersibles, and mission-critical applications under high pressure.

After serving as a Navy Carrier Pilot during WWII, Forman earned a general engineering degree from the University of Portland. Upon graduation, he worked for the Bonneville Power Administration, Department of Interior as the main shop engineer in Vancouver, Washington. Through his work he gained valuable knowledge in practical engineering design, precision fabrication and material innovations. He later accepted a job at the Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS), China Lake, California and worked with physicist Firth Pierce to design, manage, and test pilot the first American-built deep submersible.

In addition to engineering and design innovations, Forman contributed to the creation of international safety standards for the design and operation of deep submersibles through a series of Safety Guidelines published from 1968 to 1979 by the Marine Technology Society. Forman was named a Fellow of the Marine Technology Society in 1999 and is a founding member of the Deep Submersible Pilot Association. Forman is also an author of two books: The History of American Deep Submersible Operations: 1775-1995 and The Deep Voyage.

“Forman is one of the early pioneers in the submersible vehicle industry,” stated Will Kohnen, CEO of Hydrospace Group and chairman of the MTS Manned Underwater Vehicle Committee. “Ironically, the Deep Jeep was developed from the middle of the Mojave Desert, at the Naval Ordnance Test Station.  Forman spent weeks diving the Deep Jeep in Palomares, Spain looking for the missing Atomic bomb in 1966, a fascinating story all its own. The adage ‘a mind with no fear’ still is the hallmark of Will Forman.”

Today, the 92-year old Forman remains an MTS member and enthusiastically encourages young students to compete in the human-powered submarine races, held in San Diego every year. MTS is proud to bestow this honor on Mr. Forman, a man who has lived an extraordinary life that created and then pushed the boundaries in the field of manned undersea vehicles.

“Will Forman’s numerous contributions to the advancement of marine technology, particularly in the field of manned underwater vehicles, are exemplary,” said MTS President Zdenka Willis. “From his work designing some of the earliest American manned submersibles, through his ongoing mentorship of students, Will’s selfless efforts have provided humanity with the tools and expertise to safely explore and understand the Earth’s dynamic oceans which cover some 70% of the planet. MTS is honored to count Will Forman as a member and colleague.”

For more about Mr. Forman and MTS, please visit the MTS official website.

Leave a Reply