Kaya Johnson is MBARI’s Director of Marine Operations. He oversees MBARI’s seagoing assets, including our three research vessels, our deep-sea cabled observatory, and our fleet of advanced underwater robots.

Johnson previously worked at Oregon State University (OSU), first as port captain, then marine superintendent of ship operations. There, 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.