Diving Pioneer Award
The Board of Directors are pleased to announce that Torrance Parker is the recipient of the 2012 HDS Diving Pioneer Award. In making the announcement, the Board noted Parker’s lengthy successful commercial diving career, his continuing contributions to the accurate recording of diving history and his leadership role in presenting diving history to the general public.
Torrance Parker’s work in commercial diving spans more than half a century. His career began at age 16 during World War II working on a Greek sponge diving boat in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1947 he came to San Pedro, California, and founded Parker Diving Service Inc., a general engineering and commercial diving firm. Since it’s founding, the company has carried out work in many parts of the United States and in Central and South America.
Parker’s diving work involved the construction and maintenance of most of southern California’s post-World War II underwater infrastructure such as sewer, oil, gas, and water transmission pipelines, nuclear and steam power plants, ship launching ways, piers, wharfs, and other harbor structure foundations.
The City of Los Angeles employed Parker as their chief diving inspector during the construction of the Hyperion Ocean Outfall, one of the largest, longest, heaviest, deepest pipelines ever laid piece by piece by divers. He was also the chief diving inspector during the construction of the Department of Water & Power Scattergood Power Plant at Redondo Beach and the Terminal Island Sewer Force Main & Marine Outfall installations. Orange County used Parker as chief inspector-diver on the construction of their 27,400-foot long 120-inch I.D. ocean outfall. He was employed by Southern California Edison as chief diving inspector on the construction of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant.
In 1955, during Southern California’s early offshore oil operations Parker dove on the first floating vessels to help develop oil drilling technology using rotary drilling equipment, then performed diving work to install California’s first deep-water oil production platform in 100 feet of water.
For the maritime industry he carried out underwater hull surveys and repairs on more than one thousand steel merchant ships, which combined with the ship-work of PDS divers, set a record in the Ports of Los Angeles & Long Beach by servicing more than twenty-five hundred merchant and Naval vessels.
In 1953, the company carried out the first underwater Non-Destructive Testing inspections with an Audigage. In 1962, Parker introduced to the Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors the first sub-sea television equipment, and then, in 1968, introduced the first powered brushing equipment for underwater hull cleaning to those harbors. Parker Diving also provided the first ROV service to the two ports in 1984.
Major salvage operations included refloating the 556-foot SS World Centurion, the 646-foot MV Dordrecht, and the recovery of fuel oil from the 38,000-ton tanker SS Sansinena, which exploded and sank, spilling 30,000 barrels of bunker “C” onto the Los Angeles Harbor floor.
Parker sold PDS in 1985, but continued working as a consultant and diver with PDS until 1995. He surveyed the Gulf of Mexico’s pre-World War II deep-water sponge grounds which were unworked since 1939 — a diving project that took three years to accomplish.
He is the author of 20,000 Jobs Under the Sea: A History of Diving and Underwater Engineering. In 2002, Parker helped bring the exhibit “20,000 Jobs Under the Sea” to the Los Angeles Maritime Museum in San Pedro.
Our congratulations to Torrance on this well-earned award.