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Cdr. Lee B. Crane

USNR, active


Lee B. Crane was born in Providence, Rhode Island.  His father, David Crane, was from a wealthy family of jewelers and was expected to follow into the family business.  Instead, he chose a career in the Navy.  He held the rank of full Commander when he was killed in a steam explosion on his ship, when Lee was only seven years old.  Crane’s mother, Helen Bradford, was also from old Providence money, and when her husband was killed in the accident on his ship, she was left to raise their only child alone.


She rarely talked of her husband to her son.  She had quickly put away all of the mementoes of David Crane’s life, hoping to drive the love of the sea from her only child’s memories, along with the memories of his father and the Navy.  Unfortunately, that was not to be.


His father’s sudden death piqued the boy’s imagination, and he began to read voraciously of the sea and ships.  He read all of the classic tales of Captain Nemo and Moby Dick, as well as the biographies and works of Admirals Falk, Rickover, Nimitz, and other famous Naval heroes.  Interested in the sea, he read all he could about it, as well the books of Rachel Carson, Beebe, the books of Cousteau and so many more.  On his vacations, he often begged his mother to take him to the seaside for a week or two, and he would spend days just swimming and sitting on the beach, watching the ocean.


The handsome young man never lacked for female company.  As a leader of his class from the beginning, he always had the attention of the opposite sex.  He excelled in football, boxing and track, and was a straight ‘A’ student.  He was President of his senior class, and was well liked by every one, except, at this point, by his mother.  He had sought and received an appointment to the U. S. Naval Academy without his mother’s knowledge or consent.  He then accepted and informed Helen Crane that he was following in his father’s footsteps.  At that point, Helen’s relationship with her son became remote and proper, and for years, lacked warmth.


Many things, three of which were outstanding, at least in regard to the man that he was becoming, marked Lee’s four years at the Academy.  One was that he met, and became friends with, Charles Philip ‘Chip’ Morton.  They were roommates, and their friendship began, and was cemented, during those four years.  


He had taken a Marine Biology class and it was in that class that he met Captain Harriman Nelson, and Nelson made a profound change in his life.  The Captain, although not old enough, became for Lee Crane, a mentor and a father figure.  His impact on Lee Crane’s life began there, and carried through for the rest of Nelson’s life.


The third thing that happened at the Academy was the development of a character trait in Lee Crane that would direct all of the man’s actions for the rest of his life.  During those years, Crane developed the self-guiding concept for ‘doing the right thing’.  At that time in his life, Lee Crane realized that there were several ways of accomplishing directives; to do what society thought was fair; to do what was just; and to do what was ‘right’.  Most of the time, the ‘right thing’ meant putting the good of others before the good of himself.  To him, it became the only way to do things, one that would put him at odds with many a commanding officer in his Naval career, but one that would earn him the respect of many, and the undying faithfulness of each crew that he commanded.


After graduation at the top of his class, he rose quickly in the ranks.  ONI recruited him and he willingly ‘signed on’ for duty, only because to him, the ‘right thing’ was to do whatever he could to serve and protect his country.  He was also ‘recruited’ by the Firm but turned them down, after realizing the shades of gray that colored that part of the Intelligence world.  Because of his innate ability to command well, and his often heroic actions on the part of his crews and his country, he rose quickly in rank.


He attended sub school at New London, CT and was sent to the USS Halibut to serve on the boat’s mission to observe the Russian coast.  After the Halibut, he was sent to serve on the Nautilus, captained by Harriman Nelson on her last tour before decommissioning.  On the Nautilus, Crane and Nelson cemented the friendship that had begun at the Academy.  From there, Lee Crane was given his first command, the USS Kingfisher, making him the youngest Sub skipper in the Navy.  


Following two more successful commands, Crane was tapped by Harriman Nelson to take over the command of the SSRN Seaview after the murder of the original Captain, John Philips.


He married Nelson’s administrative assistant, Cathy Connors, several years after coming to the Institute, and together they had a son, Robert Charles Harriman Crane.  Cathy was killed in a car accident and Lee then remained alone for a number of years.  He finally remarried, this time to Caitlin Davis, Karen Davis Nelson’s daughter, when she was 30.  They remain married and devoted to one another, and to Lee’s son, Robert, as well as the rest of the family of the Institute.



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