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:: Bernie Campoli - Arts - 2010

  Mr. Bernie Campoli has been photographing the Recreational, Commercial and Military diving world over the past six decades. Skin diving since 1953, Bernie first used the "Aqua-Lung" in 1956 while a junior in High School. Soon he was working at the local northern New Jersey distributor for "Aqua-Lung” equipment, where he sold, repaired dive gear, filled tanks and, in his own words, was his own best customer. Bernie’s first published photo appeared in a 1955 issue of Skin Diver, well over a half-century ago. As an early New Jersey Wreck Diver himself, he keeps in touch with many of the Northeast’s pioneers and legends in this sport.

Portending events to come, in July 1958 Bernie set a new world's record for submerged endurance after spending 30 hours and 6 minutes underwater in a Hamburg, New Jersey quarry. During 1959-1960 Bernie, diving for Lamont Geological Observatory, traveled to Iceland, Azores, Bermuda and Barbados installing wave recorders, and completed assignments from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

In 1961 Bernie enlisted in the U.S. Navy, was assigned to the newly formed Atlantic Fleet Mobile Photographic Group, and became a member of the commands "First Still Photo Team". After attending Navy Underwater Swim School he was awarded the unique designation of Navy Photographer / Diver (nec 8136). Early Navy underwater assignments included documenting UDT and SEAL Training in Little Creek, Virginia and St Thomas Virgin Islands. In his brief 4 1/2 year active duty Navy career, Bernie traveled the world documenting with Motion Picture and Still Photography the U.S. Navy story. He was there, documenting in film President John F. Kennedy's visits to the Fleet in 1962-63, the tests on the new MK VI semi-closed re-breather, the commissioning and first sea trials of the "Alvin", the voyages of the French Navy's "Archimedes", and NASA's Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions. In 1963 alone Bernie traveled to 14 countries in Africa and the Mediterranean on photo assignment.
In 1964 Bernie became a "Plank Owner" of Project SEALAB, filming the U.S. Navy's pioneering Man-in-the-Sea saturation diving mission. His photography of men living and working underwater won several awards. Importantly, Bernie’s images proved instrumental in exciting the public imagination of living in the sea, and recognized the contributions of Captain George F. Bond, now known as the father of saturation diving. After completing his Navy tour, Bernie joined Ocean Systems Inc’s Submersible Department as a crew member in 1966, performing at sea surveys and underwater searches for the U.S. Navy, AT&T and other Government agencies. This work provided opportunities to craft still photos and motion pictures which led to his underwater footage included in two Emmy award-winning "21th Century Programs" with Walter Cronkite.

This film work resulted in Bernie’s transfer to Union Carbide in New York City as a corporate photographer, and further assignments to Oceans Systems for search and savage projects for the U.S. Navy. In the spring of 1969 he traveled to California to provide still and motion picture support of the Navy's Mark 1 Deep Dive saturation system, and Ocean SystemsJapan Diver Training. In 1970 Bernie was awarded two Communications Arts Awards for still photography.

The period 1971-1974 in California saw Bernie in Santa Barbara,California attending college, and…..simultaneously working on episodes of the TV show “Cannon” with Bill Conrad, teaching SCUBA diving, and photographic assignments with Jack McKenny for Skin Diver Magazine. Including returning to the east coast to dive the Andrea Doria in 1963 with Saturation Systems Inc, which placed a habitat on the ship’s hull. The story was told in the December 1963/January 1974 Skin Diver Magazine and in Jack McKenny's book "Diving to Adventure."

In 1974 he became a "Scientific and Technical Photographer" at the Naval Coast Systems Laboratory(nos Naval Support Activity) a job requiring diving and flying in Navy aircraft . This led to unique opportunities over the next two decades, as Bernie photo-documented testing of military mine counter-measure systems in- air and underwater, and the development of the Navy’s hovercrafts . In Hawaii and California, Bernie filmed the technical and operational evaluations of the Mark 12 dive system to 300 fsw replacing the vintage Mark V hard hat gear. On the naval station, Bernie built a full service in-house photo and video capability to support Navy research.

In the early 1980s Bernie conducted extensive underwater photography for the State of Florida on a special manatee program. He also worked for the Smithsonian Institution on a special coral reef film “The Sea – A Quest for the Future” which won two awards in 1985: The Golden Eagle Award and the Cindy, a cinematography industry award to filmmakers.

From 1982 to 2000 Bernie provided major photographic support to Naval Special Warfare programs involving the Seal Delivery Vehicle (SDV) and Dry Deck Shelter. Working at sea with East and West Coast SDV teams, Bernie deployed several times each year. As the only Navy Civilian Diver/photographer routinely locking out of Navy nuclear submarines , not many can say they were underway on 10 different subs, nor locked out more than 70 times. Bernie accumulated a lot of underwater time. And was awarded The Meritorious Civilian Service Award for his work for Naval Special Warfare from 1987 to 1993.

1990 Bernie was awarded “Honorary Chief Photographers Mate Chief Petty Officer by the National Association of Naval Photography for his contributions to Naval Photography.

In 1993 Bernie received Emmy photo credits for Discovery Channel’s "Silent Option" and “In Harm’s Way" which included his underwater scenes of working on submarine decks and surfacing submarines. This footage continues to be used on Discovery, NGS, ABC, Learning Channel, History and Military Channels, and feature motion pictures. Bernie's images of military diving have appeared in theU.S. Navy Dive Manual, All Hands Magazine, Naval Institute Proceedings, and the 2008 historical compendium Naval Forces Under the Sea, Volumes 1 and 2. Bernie retired from the Federal Government in March 2000.

Bernie is a Life Time Member of the National UDT-SEAL Museum and the UDT-SEAL Association, an associate member of the Boston Sea Rovers and maintains NAUI instructor number 1900.


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