CMDR. DOUG FANE
NAVY UDT LEADER
One of the true pioneers in military combat diving has died.
Cmdr. Doug Fane a leader of the U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition
Teams (UDT), helped prevent disbanding the UDT, evaluated and
developed advanced diving equipment, launched new diving techniques,
and shared his expertise in several other aspects of diving and the
Francis Douglas Fane was born November 16, 1909 in Aberdeen,
immigrated to the United States with his family in 1911 and became a
naturalized U.S. Citizen in Boston, MA, in 1934. He shipped out to
sea on a freighter at age 16. Fane worked his way up through
Vessel Navigator and Master in the U.S. Merchant Marine from 1936 to
In 1940 he received a commission as a Lt. JG in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He served on board a destroyer, cruiser, aircraft carrier,
ammunition vessel and amphibious assault ship.
Fane was involved in combat action in the Aleutian Islands,
Sicily, the Marshall Islands, the Marinas and New Guinea. He became an expert in cargo handling and munitions.
After serving 34 months in the U.S. Navy, Lt. JG. Fane volunteered for
“extra-hazardous duty.” This turned out to be with the U.S. Navy Underwater
Demolition Teams (UDT). Before reporting for training at Ft.
Pierce, Florida, the 33-year-old Fane had to learn how to swim.
He earned the nickname of “Red Dog Fane,” because of his red hair
Promoted to Lt., Fane was in command of UDT-13 in 1945. He and his
team were one of the first units into Japan. After the end of World
War II, the Chief of Naval Operations dispatched Lt. Cmdr. Fane to
Europe to investigate combat diving activities. Fane conducted
a detailed survey of all diving operations and developments, shipped
critical diving equipment to the U.S. and brought combat diving
specialists to advise the U.S. Navy UDT. This was the
beginning of Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E)
within the UDT and later the SEAL Teams.
returning to the UDT operations at Little Creek (part of the Norfolk
Amphibious Base), Lt. Cmdr. Fane discovered that the U.S. Navy
planned to dissolve UDT. He had a major involvement in saving UDT Teams.
instrumental in making many advancements in UDT equipment and diving
operations during the late 1940s. He searched out technologies conducted by the U.S. Office of
Strategic Services (OSS) during WWII. Fane located Dr. Christian Lambertsen, who had developed the
Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit (LAUR). This closed-circuit oxygen rebreather was used by both the
OSS and later the UDT as an underwater breathing system that did not
release tell-tale exhaled bubbles.
Fane helped establish UDT training facilities in St. Thomas, U.S.
Virgin Islands. Fane led groups of UDT divers in developing diver lockout
from submarines, use of diver transport vehicles, closed-circuit
breathing systems, underwater navigation techniques and other
Fane recruited Lt. Fennimore Johnson, a highly-respected underwater
still photographer and cinematographer, to document UDT operations
in St. Thomas. These valuable visual aids greatly helped the advancement of the
UDT. He saw what the Italians and British had accomplished with
their diver transport vehicles during World War II. Lt. Cmdr. Fane built on these successes to advance diver
transport vehicles and operational techniques even further. This led
to the development of the SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDVs) and of
mid-1949, Lt. Cmdr. Fane searched out the co-inventor of the
Aqua-Lung, engineer Emile Gagnan. Fane convinced him to bring two of his Aqua-Lungs to Little
Creek, where Fane and his UDT tested the new underwater air
breathing systems called SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing
Apparatus). Lt. Cmdr. Fane was able to get the Aqua-Lung
accepted by the U.S. Navy UDT.
Fane was Senior UDT Officer in Korea during 1951-1952. He led
several hazardous missions in South Korea, and behind the lines in
North Korea up to 60 miles of the Chinese border. UDT perfected their skills in guerrilla warfare and use of
explosives for sabotage.
return to the U.S., Lt. Cmdr. Fane was assigned to the UDT base in
Coronado, CA. He continued his research and development of advanced diving
equipment for UDT.
Lt. Cmdr. Fane shared his expertise in diving with other
During the early 1950s, Lt. Cmdr. Fane worked closely with early
scientific diving pioneers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography,
including Dr. Andreas Rechnitzer, Connie Limbaugh, Jim Stewart and
Willard Bascom. Fane taught them about various aspects of diving, including
the proper use of the new Aqua-Lung Scuba System.
The Scripps scientific diving team then taught two early sport
diving specialists from the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation
Department … Al Tillman and Bev Morgan. Tillman and Morgan founded the first sport scuba training
program in the United States, the Los Angeles County Underwater
Instructors Association, the first sport scuba training program in
the United States in 1954. Also from Fane’s sharing of early
scuba skills, Tillman, Dr. Rechnitzer and others formed the National
Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) in 1960.
Lt. Cmdr. Fane helped UDT incorporate parachute jumping as another
combat insertion means. During training operations at the U.S. Navy Station in El
Centro, CA. Lt. Cmdr. Fane and Dr. Robert Fulton developed the
Fulton Pickup for diving boats to recover divers from the water at
Recognizing the need for qualified diving medical support, Lt. Cmdr.
Fane was able to add the second Diving Medical Officer (Dr. Charles
Aquadro) to his UDT. Their collaboration greatly advanced diving with air, oxygen,
mixed-gas (helium and oxygen) and tri-mix (helium-oxygen-nitrogen).
In 1952 an
U.S. Air Force B-36 bomber crashed off San Diego, CA. Lt.
Cmdr. Fane was asked to use a new experimental tri-mix to make the
252-foot dive using mixed-gas scuba. Fane used underwater
explosives to successfully blow up classified equipment aboard the
B-36. But after long decompression in the water and running
out of the tri-mix gas, he was hit with the bends and had to
decompress in a surface decompression chamber.
continued his evaluation and modification of the Italian Seahorse
and Trass diver transport vehicles. During 1952-1955,
Lt. Cmdr. Fane worked with Calvin Congwer, an engineer at Aerojet-General
in Los Angeles, to development of diver transport vehicles – the
Swimmer Propulsion Unit (SPU) and the Minisub MK VII.
Lt. Cmdr. Fane also worked with a very talented engineer and
underwater photographer, Dimitri Rebikoff, to incorporate the
Pegasus diver transport vehicle into UDT.
Fane and his UDT divers were involved in the first dives under the
Arctic ice using air scuba during 1953. This was part of the
Defense Early Warning (DEW) Line across North America, to detect
missiles launched from the Soviet Union.
was promoted to full Commander in 1953. He became Commanding
Officer of UDT 1 in Coronado, California.
1954, Cmdr. Fane led a team of UDT divers in shark research near
Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands and diving research following
atomic bomb testing in the South Pacific. He was Technical Advisor
on several underwater motion pictures and television shows.
Cmdr. Fane and Dan Moore wrote an excellent book about the UDT,
titled The Naked
Warriors. The historical book documents UDT during World
War II and the Korean War.
The book was republished in 1993 by the U.S. Naval Institute.
MGM produced a feature movie based on Fane’s book, called The
Underwater Warriors. Dan Dailey played Cmdr. Fane and Zale
Parry played Doug Fane’s wife. Cmdr. Fane was Technical Consultant on the film. Cmdr. Fane
helped the producer of The Underwater Warriors, (Ivan Tors)
during the pilot of the popular television series, Sea Hunt.
Lloyd Bridges played the part of Mike Nelson. Zale Parry was Technical Advisor, played many of the surface
women parts and did all the underwater women stunts.
Cmdr. Fane was military Intelligence Advisor to the Republic of
After a career in the U.S. Navy, Cmdr. Fane retired in 1960. Much of the vision and hard work of Cmdr. Fane was the
foundation for the U.S. Navy SEAL Team, which was formally launched
in January 1962 by President Kennedy.
another UDT officer (Lt. Jon Lindbergh) formed a commercial diving
company. Lindbergh is a graduate of Stanford University, an
underwater engineer, an early pioneer in commercial deep saturation
diving (with Ocean Systems Inc.) and is considered a leading expert
in aquaculture. Jon Lindbergh is the second son of aviator, Charles
early 1960s Fane spent considerable time in Japan and Southeast
Asia. He was a
correspondent to publishing companies and radio stations. Cmdr. Fane became Editor of
Oceanologist (based in Japan).He was an Instructor and Dean of Faculty at Yokahama Gaigo
Business College in Japan.
was Director of the Southeast U.S. and Caribbean Section of World
Life Research of Colton, CA. Dr. Bruce Halstead, Executive Director of World Life
Research, had been involved in the shark studies in the South
Pacific in which Fane participated.
received many honors and awards during his distinguished career,
including numerous military commendations and medals: Presidential
Unit Citation; Navy Unit Citation, European Medal with one star;
Asiatic-Pacific Medal with three stars; Commendation For Bravery;
Combat Service Medals with stars for European, Pacific and Korean
Wars; the U.S. Special Operations Command Award; and many others.
received an Award from the Los Angeles County Underwater Instructors
Association for his important contribution to the development to
Biography provided by Edward C. Cargile, associate of Cmdr. Fane’s.