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March 5, 2009

Release date:  February 25, 2009
Contact: Beth Bilderback (757) 664-1017


Dream to Dive: The Life of Navy Master Diver Carl Brashear 
New exhibit tells story of U.S. Navy’s first African-American Master Diver

Norfolk, VA – Nauticus brings to life the story of Carl "Maxie" Brashear, the U.S. Navy's first African-American Master Diver, with a new exhibit, Dream to Dive:  The Life of Navy Master Diver Carl Brashear.  Developed in conjunction with Brashear's two sons DaWayne and Phillip Brashear, the 3,300-square foot exhibit features historic photos, videos, and artifacts as well as interactive opportunities to experience some of the physical challenges Brashear faced during his remarkable career.  Dream to Dive is included in Nauticus admission and runs through June 7, 2009.
 “Carl Brashear is a wonderful example of a person with a “never give up” mentality,” says Nauticus curator Martha Walker. “The challenges he faced and overcame were truly inspirational. Thanks to Carl Brashear’s sons, we’re able to exhibit items in this exhibit that have never seen by the public before.”

A Kentucky native who spent his post-military career in Hampton Roads, Brashear enlisted in the United States Navy in 1948, shortly after the Navy had desegregated.  After becoming a diver in 1954,  Master Chief Brashear went on to become the first African-American U.S. Navy Master Diver, as well as first Navy diver to be restored to full active duty as an amputee, the result of a leg injury he sustained during a salvage operation.

Brashear retired from the Navy in 1979 after more than 30 years of service and died in Portsmouth, Virginia in 2006.  His story inspired the film Men of Honor in 2000, in which he is portrayed by Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding, Jr.  Two vessels have also been named in his honor, a 30-foot high-speed fireboat named Carl Brashear by the Newport News Fire Department in 2007 and the Lewis and Clark class dry cargo ship USNS Carl Brashear in September 2008.

Men of Honor will be shown daily at 1 p.m. throughout the run of the exhibit. Opening Dawayne and Phillip Brashear are available for phone interviews.


Nauticus is a maritime science museum located on the downtown Norfolk waterfront that features hands-on exhibits, interactive theaters and exciting, educational films as well as Navy exhibits and The Hampton Roads  Naval Museum; the awe-inspiring Battleship Wisconsin; a NOAA environmental resource center; The Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center, and the Victory Rover, which offers cruises of the seaport.  

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