• Diving into Ben Franklin history featured image

Diving into Ben Franklin history

hsd finds UK submersible crew member and connects the dots

The Ben Franklin was an underwater submersible built in the late 1960s and is currently stationed outside the Vancouver Maritime Museum. A research vessel designed to carry a crew for up to a month, enabling deep sea oceanographic study, the submersible particularly widened understanding of the Gulf Stream. NASA also used the vessel to better understand the effects of close confinement, like that experienced by astronauts aboard space flights.

The Vancouver Maritime Museum and NASA had details of all the crew members except for a British Oceanographer, Mr. Kenneth Haigh who worked as an exchange scientist at the United States Oceanographic Office, where he served as a member of the crew aboard the Ben Franklin submersible.

An electrical engineer by training, Haigh was a specialist in acoustics and was responsible for conducting scientific experiments while on board the Ben Franklin. A colleague wrote of Mr Haig, “In his person the British Empire has come aboard the mesocaphe: calm, level-headed, knowledgeable, dependable, humorous, discreet, modest, tenacious, impassive – all these British qualities go into making a wonderful co-worker and comrade. Only one thing aboard displeases him: the instant tea!”

hsd was asked to help find out more about Kenneth Haigh. After exhausting initial lines of enquiry, we enlisted the help of Prof. Kevin Schurer, from Leicester University, who had identified King Richard III’s relatives.

Prof. Schurer quickly helped to locate the family of this missing engineer.  Unfortunately, Mr. Haigh himself had passed away several years ago, but his family were thrilled to hear from us. Our team spoke with Mr. Haigh’s daughters who have shared documents and newspaper cuttings relating to the Ben Franklin that were not previously in the public domain.

It’s been fantastic to find out more about the UK’s connection to the Ben Franklin and hsd are delighted to have helped locate Mr. Haigh’s family.

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