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MBARI welcomes new director of marine operations

New Director of Marine Operations Kaya Johnson will oversee MBARI’s research vessels and the team
that deploys MBARI’s advanced underwater robots. Image: Todd Walsh © 2014 MBARI

MBARI welcomes new director of marine operations

New Director of Marine Operations Kaya Johnson joins the MBARI team after serving as marine superintendent of ship operations at Oregon State University. Image: Todd Walsh © 2024 MBARI

MBARI’s marine operations team is critical to the success of the institute’s work. From the crew who manage our research vessels to the pilots and engineers who launch and operate our cutting-edge underwater robots, the Division of Marine Operations is the backbone of MBARI’s work. 

Last month, MBARI welcomed Kaya Johnson as our new Director of Marine Operations. Johnson will oversee MBARI’s seagoing assets, including our three research vessels, our deep-sea cabled observatory, and our fleet of advanced underwater robots.

“MBARI’s innovative technology is transforming ocean exploration. I’m honored to join the team and work alongside MBARI scientists and engineers to deploy our fleet of research vessels and advanced robots to answer important questions about the health of our ocean,” said Director of Marine Operations Kaya Johnson.

“With a new research vessel joining our fleet soon and a new robotic technology lab on the horizon, we’re thrilled to have Kaya Johnson at the helm of our marine operations. His strong leadership, wealth of knowledge, strategic vision, and ability to foster collaborative relationships will be invaluable to MBARI’s work,” said MBARI President and CEO Chris Scholin.

Johnson comes to MBARI from Oregon State University (OSU), where he worked for the past six years. Johnson was port captain at OSU, then served as marine superintendent of ship operations. He managed operations for OSU’s fleet of three research vessels—the R/V Elakha, the R/V Oceanus (retired in November 2021), and the R/V Pacific Storm

Prior to his tenure at OSU, Johnson served as the vessel operations coordinator with Ocean Associates, Inc. at the Point Adams Research Station, where he was responsible for the safe and efficient operation of a fleet of twenty research vessels, maintaining records and metrics, ensuring compliance with relevant regulations, and conducting risk assessment evaluations for scientific projects. Earlier in his career, Johnson served as a vessel master and marine operations manager at American Waterways, Inc. where he captained a fleet of five vessels.  

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