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April 16, 2024

MBARI Names Kaya Johnson 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

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 recently welcomed Kaya Johnson as its new director of marine operations, tasked with overseeing the institute’s seagoing assets, including three research vessels, a deep-sea cabled observatory and fleet of advanced underwater robots.

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—Elakha, Oceanus (retired in November 2021) and 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 20 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.  

“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,” Johnson said.

MBARI president and CEO, Chris Scholin, said, “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.”

MBARI will soon take delivery of its new new oceanographic vessel, David Packard, built at the Freire Shipyard in Spain.

The February 2024 edition of Marine Technology Reporter is focused on Oceanographic topics and technologies.
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