Bill Kruse and Tom Santilena

Location of Interview
Collection Name

Cordell Expeditions


This is a compilation of oral history interviews with core team members of Cordell Expeditions, the team of divers that pioneered exploration of Cordell Bank in the late   1970s and 1980s. These individuals' efforts were instrumental in the discovery of Cordell Bank's biological richness, its nomination and designation as a National Marine Sanctuary. The extraordinary biodiversity of this special place was recognized in 1989, when Congress designated Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary.    Today sanctuary staff work to protect the Cordell Bank region through research, regulations, and education. Interviews were conducted with Cordell Expeditions 'core team' members (those that were significantly involved in   the expedition from the beginning to end).

Date of Interview
Biographical Sketch

Bill Kruse and Tom Santilena are two notable members of the Cordell Expeditions who participated in the historic dives on Cordell Bank in the early 1980s. Bill Kruse, born in Palo Alto, California, followed in his father's footsteps to become an electrical engineer, designing hardware for microwave testing. His involvement with Cordell Expeditions marked a significant transition in his career, shifting from hardware to computer work and computer mapping. His interests extended beyond diving to include underwater photography and exploration projects related to diving. Tom Santilena, born in Alameda, California in 1949, pursued a career in accounting after attending Armstrong Business College in Berkeley. He has served as a financial controller for about four companies throughout his career. Santilena's friendship with Kruse spans over thirty-eight years, and their shared interest in diving led them to become involved with Cordell Expeditions. Like Kruse, Santilena's interests were not limited to diving; he was also drawn to projects related to diving and the various elements that needed to come together to execute a project.

Scope and Content Note
This oral history interview conducted by Dewey Livingston and Jennifer Stock on October 28, 2010, provides an in-depth look into the experiences of Bill Kruse and Tom Santilena, two members of Cordell Expeditions who participated in the historic dives on Cordell Bank in the early 1980s. The interview delves into their personal backgrounds, their interests in diving and related projects, and their experiences during the expeditions. The interviewees discuss the evolution of the dive expeditions over the six or seven years they were involved, highlighting the learning process they underwent. They talk about the challenges they faced, such as determining the right weather and currents for diving, deciding when to abort a dive, and dealing with navigation issues. They also discuss the evolution of their equipment and techniques, from using a compass to adopting LORAN-A, LORAN-C, and eventually one of the first commercially available GPS systems. The interview also touches on personal stories, such as Santilena's experience of learning about his father's heart attack just before a dive. The interview provides a comprehensive overview of their experiences and contributions to the Cordell Expeditions.

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