Wayne Hasson Named 2018 Legend of the Sea

Hasson to be honored at Beneath the Sea in Secaucus, N.J., March 23

Wayne Hasson became certified as a YMCA Open-Water Diver in 1967. In 1972 he earned his U.S. Coast Guard captain's license as an Ocean Operator. That year he also worked 80 hours underwater salvage diving the USS Picket, a Civil War ironclad gunboat sunk in the Tad River near Washington, N.C. In 1973, while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps, he became certified as a NAUI Instructor, completed Navy Dive School and certified more than 500 divers during his time in service. He left the military in 1978.

While in the Marines, Hasson decided what he wanted in life. Acting on that decision, Capt. Hasson was the owner/captain of the first charter liveaboard, M/V King Mac, operating out of Moorehead City, N.C.,from 1976 to 1979. By 1980 Hasson had relocated to the Cayman Islands, taking over management of the Casa Bertmar Dive Resort. While on Cayman from 1980 to 1984, he became involved in all aspects of the island and tourism. He organized and taught the first after-school dive training course for Cayman youth, created the first underwater petting zoo, photographed underwater for the Department of Tourism, hosted snorkeling familiarization trips for travel agents visiting the islands — and he met and married his wife, Anne. Still, the vision of a fleet of diving liveaboards was always on his mind.

In May 1984 Hasson introduced the first Aggressor to the Cayman Islands. That year President Adrian Biggs of the Cayman Islands appointed Hasson chairman of the Cayman Islands Mooring Project. Hasson's company funded and installed more than 100 mooring sites in the Cayman Islands, and he was a part of every mooring installation. He spent whatever spare time he had that year with Peter Benchley and David Doubilet on a National Geographic story.

Hasson now serves as captain of the Cayman Aggressor, Cayman Aggressor II and Cayman Aggressor III. In his spare time he still gives to the Cayman Islands, working with the search and rescue team, the police and the port authority, with several rescues at sea to his credit.

In the mid-1990s Hasson was the point person for acquiring Russian warship #356 in Cuba to sink as a dive site at Cayman Brac. He flew his plane back and forth to Cuba every other week until the boat was ready, cleaned of obstructions, hatches removed, and then sunk in place.

Mahatma Gandhi observed that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. Hasson exemplifies the nature, merit and value of such service. To
the dive industry, he served on the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) board for five years — three as vice president and five as a committee chair, organizing career fairs, an Ocean Career Day Guide and a Deep Ambition Career Fair. He served on the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) board for three years. Later, when Hasson and his family moved from Cayman to Naples, Fla., he joined the local Rotary Club because of their motto: "Service above self." He served 10 years with the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Naples, running a summer lecture program and mentoring shark tagging with grade school and university students.

Hasson used his talent as a pilot and mentor in the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Young Eagles program, introducing more than 100 Cayman boys and girls to aviation. When not photographing and shooting video underwater or hosting youth camps for the cognitively impaired, he is filming or directing movies and assisting in feature films such as the Abyss with James Cameron.

Hasson's many awards and recognitions come from various sectors. In addition to operating the Aggressor Fleet, he is the founder of Oceans for Youth. As an inventor, he owns a U.S. patent on his Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth (SASY). As a videographer, he has had videos aired on CNN and Fox News. As an aviator and environmentalist, he spent much of his time conserving our world and mentoring the young.

Today the Aggressor Fleet boasts 22 liveaboards in the major diving centers of the world. Hasson saw his vision not just come alive and blossom, but bloom throughout the diving world.

Beneath the Sea is proud to recognize Capt. Wayne Hasson as its Legend of the Sea for 2018 — not only for the strength and character that made his vision come alive in the Aggressor Fleet, but also for his continuing service to mentor and motivate the youth of two countries.