Dirk Pitt is a fictional character created by American novelist Clive Cussler and featured in a series of novels published from 1976 to 2021. Pitt is a larger-than-life hero reminiscent of pulp magazine icon Doc Savage. Pitt is a citizen of the United States, on loan from the United States Air Force with the rank of Major, after serving in Vietnam as a pilot. He manages to find adventure with his childhood best friend, Al Giordino, despite ending up with an ostensibly desk-bound role as the head of the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Pitt has a commanding presence, a quick wit, and a considerable collection of classic cars.

Dirk Pitt
First appearanceThe Mediterranean Caper
Last appearanceClive Cussler's The Devil's Sea
Created byClive Cussler
Portrayed byRichard Jordan
Matthew McConaughey
In-universe information
Full nameDirk Eric Pitt
OccupationIn early novels: Director, Special Projects, National Underwater and Marine Agency.
Later: Director, National Underwater and Marine Agency
SpouseCongresswoman Loren Smith
Significant othersSummer Moran, Maeve Fletcher
ChildrenDirk Pitt Jr.
Summer Pitt
RelativesSenator George Pitt (father)

Biography and careerEdit

Dirk Eric Pitt, renowned adventurer, is the son of Senator George Pitt of California. Dirk graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and served as a pilot in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. Dirk is an accomplished pilot who is qualified to fly both fixed-wing and rotary aircraft. He would go on to attain the rank of major. Over the course of his service, Pitt has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with two clusters, a Silver Star, a Purple Heart and many other commendations.[1]

Dirk Pitt received one such commendation for shooting down the plane of Admiral James Sandecker. The plane was carrying the Admiral and his staff to a remote base north of Da Nang. Unknown to them, the base was overrun by the North Vietnamese and their radio was malfunctioning, so they were unable to receive a warning. Pitt was flying nearby returning to his base from a bombing mission and was ordered to intercept and alert the admiral by whatever means available. When efforts to communicate with the Admiral's plane were unsuccessful, Pitt expertly shot out both engines on the transport, forcing them to ditch in the sea instead of landing at the captured base. Dirk then flew cover, strafing any boats that left the shore, until everyone was taken aboard a navy patrol vessel.[2]

Dirk's service record was amended in the film versions of Raise the Titanic! and Sahara, where he is said to have graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. In both versions, Dirk graduated with his childhood best friend, Al Giordino.

After leaving the service, Dirk worked as a marine engineer for the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), an oceanographic research organization headed by Admiral James Sandecker. In his career at NUMA, Dirk made numerous shipwreck discoveries and thwarted countless plans by villains intent on global catastrophe or world domination.

In recent novels, Dirk has become the head of NUMA, succeeding Admiral Sandecker when the latter was appointed Vice President of the United States after the sudden death in office of his predecessor. Despite his promotion, Pitt is uncomfortable with a desk job, and still heads numerous projects in the field, becoming entangled in villainous plots just as easily as before his promotion.

Personal traitsEdit

Dirk is 6 ft 3 in (190.5 cm) tall with craggy looks, dark wavy hair, and a rangy build. Cussler refers often to Dirk's "opaline green eyes", which can be both alluring or intimidating, as need be. Pitt has a commanding presence which, combined with a quick, sly wit, often infuriates his adversaries and superiors. Comical banter with Al is especially common during stressful situations, leaving the reader with little doubt that both are confident in their abilities.

His weapon of choice is a Colt .45-caliber M1911 semi-automatic pistol that he received from his father. His drink of choice is blue agave Tequila. Dirk believes that quality tequila should be drunk straight with salt and lime, preferring to use cheaper tequila in margaritas. He wears an orange-faced Doxa dive watch.

Classic car collectionEdit

When Dirk Pitt is not traveling, he lives in a remodeled and refurbished hangar on the grounds of Washington National Airport, near Washington, D.C. A cast-iron stairway leads into a cluttered apartment with maps of the sea and models of ships scattered all about. The hangar houses his substantial collection of classic and antique cars, as well as a Messerschmitt Me 262 aircraft, a Ford trimotor aircraft, a Pullman railroad dining car, and a totem pole. The hangar also contains items collected from prior adventures, such as a cast-iron bathtub with an outboard motor fixed to one end, and is protected by a state-of-the-art security system. Pitt occasionally adds classic cars to his collection, purloined from a variety of antagonists over the course of his adventures. The character shares his affinity for cars with his creator, the author Clive Cussler. Relatedly, Pitt is named after Dirk Cussler, Clive's son and sometime co-writer of the Dirk Pitt adventure stories.

Love interests and familyEdit

Throughout his life, there have been three women of significance: Summer Moran, Maeve Fletcher, and Loren Smith.

Summer Moran is the mother of his twin children, Dirk Pitt Jr. and Summer Pitt. She is often described as Pitt's first real love. The daughter of deranged scientist Frederick Moran, she was believed dead by Pitt when she was lost during an attempt to rescue her father as his underwater lair collapsed. As revealed by 23-year-old Dirk Pitt Jr. when the two meet in the concluding chapters of the novel Valhalla Rising, Summer in fact survived, badly maimed by the incident, and refused to seek him out because she wanted Pitt to remember her as he knew her. She gave birth to the twins shortly thereafter and raised them, naming them after their parents.

Dirk meets Maeve Fletcher in Shock Wave. Like Summer, she was also the daughter of a deranged, ruthless villain. However, she refuses to have any part in her family's dealings or with her father, the villain Arthur Dorsett. Maeve was the single mother of two children, who she raised on her salary as a tour guide aboard a cruise in the Antarctic when she and Pitt first met. She held a master's degree in zoology. Maeve and Dirk pledged their deepest love for each other, but unfortunately Maeve was already fatally wounded, and she died in Pitt's arms.

Pitt has a long-term relationship with Congresswoman Loren Smith, whom he married before the book Havana Storm.

Cars of Dirk PittEdit

A 1936 Maybach Zeppelin was featured in The Mediterranean Caper

List of novels and filmsEdit

Dirk Pitt adventure novels

  1. Pacific Vortex! (1983) - Written by Clive Cussler (though released at a later date, this is the first book that was written)
  2. The Mediterranean Caper (a.k.a. Mayday, 1973)
  3. Iceberg (1975)
  4. Raise the Titanic! (1976)
  5. Vixen 03 (1978)
  6. Night Probe! (1981)
  7. Deep Six (1984)
  8. Cyclops (1986)
  9. Treasure (1988)
  10. Dragon (1990)
  11. Sahara (1992)
  12. Inca Gold (1994)
  13. Shock Wave (1996)
  14. Flood Tide (1997)
  15. Atlantis Found (1999)
  16. Valhalla Rising (2001)
  17. Trojan Odyssey (2003)
  18. Black Wind (2004) - Written with son Dirk Cussler
  19. Treasure of Khan (2006) - Written with son Dirk Cussler
  20. Arctic Drift (2008) - Written with son Dirk Cussler
  21. Crescent Dawn (2010) - Written with son Dirk Cussler
  22. Poseidon's Arrow (2012) - Written with son Dirk Cussler
  23. Havana Storm (2014) - Written with son Dirk Cussler
  24. Odessa Sea (2016) - Written with son Dirk Cussler[3]
  25. Celtic Empire (2019) - Written with son Dirk Cussler[4][5]
  26. Clive Cussler's The Devil's Sea (2021) - Written by Dirk Cussler

Novel notesEdit

Although Pacific Vortex! was released in 1983, it is actually the first Dirk Pitt novel chronologically. The events of Pacific Vortex! happen before those of The Mediterranean Caper. In fact, several events in Pacific Vortex! are referred to in The Mediterranean Caper. The series does not have to be read in order, since each book stands by itself.

There is also a Dirk Pitt reference book:

  • Dirk Pitt and Clive Cussler Revealed (1998) - Written with Craig Dirgo, which contains photos and a synopsis of the books, as well as a compendium of cars, characters, villains and women that have appeared in the novels throughout the years. Also, there is a biography and interview with Cussler, and a short story "The Reunion", written from the perspective of a character who crashes a party at Pitt's hangar, meeting all the characters who had been predominant in the novels up to that time. Hints dropped throughout the story indicate that this unnamed character is Cussler himself.

Film notesEdit

Pitt has twice appeared on the big screen, in movie adaptations of Raise the Titanic in 1980, and Sahara in 2005. In the former he was portrayed by Richard Jordan, and in the latter by Matthew McConaughey.

Clive Cussler sued the production company for the film Sahara, Crusader, in 2004, claiming the company reneged on a contract that gave him approval rights over the film's screenplay, when, in fact, he only had those rights until a director was hired. Crusader, which is owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz, then countersued, accusing Cussler of duping it into adapting his book into a film based on an inflated number of novels sold. Jurors ruled in May 2007 in favor of the production company. On 10 March 2009, Judge John P. Shook ordered Clive Cussler to pay $13.9 million in legal fees to Crusader. In his ruling, Judge Shook agreed with lawyers for Crusader Entertainment that an original contract between the two parties called for an award of legal fees if either side breached. "The issue boils down to whether the fees requested are reasonable and necessary," Shook said. He concluded that they were. On July 27, 2009, Cussler issued a final check to Crusader, which totals the payback to $20 million to the wronged production company. A March 2010 decision by the California Court of Appeal has since overturned the earlier awardings of both the $5 million in damages and nearly $14 million in legal fees to Crusader.[6]

Critical studiesEdit

Cussler's Dirk Pitt adventures are the focus of "The Clive Cussler Adventures: A Critical Review" by Steven Philip Jones.


  1. ^ See Pacific Vortex! page 77 (reprinted in hardcover by Cahill Press in 2000).
  2. ^ Cussler, Clive (1985). Deep Six, New York: Simon & Schuster. 0-671-50373-1; pages 337 and 338.
  3. ^ "Odessa Sea - An Official Web Site for Bestselling Adventure Novelist - Author Clive Cussler". clive-cussler-books.com.
  4. ^ "Havana Storm (Dirk Pitt, book 23) by Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler". www.fantasticfiction.co.uk.
  5. ^ results, search (28 October 2014). Havana Storm: A Dirk Pitt Adventure. G.P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 978-0399172922.
  6. ^ "Judgement against author Cussler overturned in Anschutz/'Sahara' dispute." Denver Business Journal. 4 March 2010. http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/stories/2010/03/01/daily53.html

External linksEdit