R/V Gloria Michelle Crew
Recounting all of the NOAA Ship Gloria Michelle's crew members since she became part of NOAA Fisheries.
Gloria Michelle crew members, past and present.
R/V Gloria Michelle Current Crew Members
Lt. Junior Grade Alex Creed
Alex Creed lived one block from Raritan Bay in Cliffwood Beach, New Jersey growing up. That meant he spent lots of time going to the beach, surfing, fishing, and scuba diving as a child. From first grade through high school, he explored the nearby marine environment and has always loved the water.
Creed was named commanding officer of the R/V Gloria Michelle in June 2022.
His connection to NOAA actually began in high school at the Marine Academy of Science and Technology, which is located next door to the NOAA Fisheries laboratory at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. The academy is a public vocational high school with a focus on marine science. Teachers there mentioned NOAA Corps as a possible career path. He already knew he wanted to work in the marine sciences field, and took advantage of classes in marine biology and oceanography.
R/V Gloria Michelle Former Crew Members
Lt. Cmdr Benjamin VanDine
Benjamin VanDine’s route to a career in the NOAA Corps ran through his love of diving, and doing research on corals in Bonaire during a college semester abroad. Today he is the officer-in-charge of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center's research vessel Gloria Michelle.
Working on the ocean was not on the radar early in Ben VanDine’s life. Born and raised in the small town of Eagle in southeastern Wisconsin, freshwater was his playground. He enjoyed the lakes and river systems of Wisconsin and “up North” in Canada. The only family connection to the ocean was his grandfather, who served in the U.S. Navy shortly after the Korean War.
Ensign Christopher Gallagher
Cape Native Joins R/V Gloria Michelle Crew
Joining the NOAA Corps and being able to return to Cape Cod have been dreams come true for Ensign Christopher Gallagher, the new Junior Officer in Charge (JOIC) of the research vessel Gloria Michelle. Born in Hyannis and raised in Sandwich, Chris graduated from Sandwich High School in 2010 and attended college nearby at Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA).
That’s where he learned about the NOAA Corps. During the fall semester of freshman year, he met a former Officer in Charge (OIC) of the R/V Gloria Michelle, LCDR Carl Rhodes, at a career fair at the academy. “He sold me, and I went back and talked to him every career fair after that,“ Gallagher said of the experience. “I had my goals set on it after that first meeting.”
He applied to the program in the winter of his senior year, and a month after graduating from MMA in 2014 with a B.S. in marine safety and environmental protection and a minor in marine biology, Gallagher began the Basic Officer Training Class (BOTC) at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. “I was attracted to the travel, being out at sea, diving, and just being around marine science.”
The 19-week BOTC class involves onboard ship-handling exercises coupled with classroom instruction in leadership, officer bearing, NOAA mission and history, ship handling, basic seamanship, firefighting, navigation, and first aid. New NOAA Corps recruits train alongside Coast Guard officers, spending two weeks of their training aboard the 295-foot U.S. Coast Guard Barque Eagle to improve their seamanship, teamwork and leadership skills before receiving their first assignment.
After completing the course, officers are assigned to a NOAA ship for up to three years of sea duty. For Gallagher, that meant heading to Mississippi to work aboard the 209-foot NOAA Ship Pisces in Pascagoula for two years. His duties included serving as the Environmental Compliance Officer, Safety, Damage Control, and Dive Officer. “We sailed all over the Gulf of Mexico, all the way up the East Coast to the northeastern coast of Maine and the Hague Line and down to the U.S. Virgin Islands and around Puerto Rico.”
Gallagher enjoyed the wide range of operations on the ship, from Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) activities to fishing, camera deployments and mapping. He also enjoyed exploring parts of the country he had never visited during port calls. “I remember conducting a hull dive while we were in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. It was amazing to have the water visibility of the Caribbean to see the underside of the ship; the Pascagoula River did not really provide a clear view.”
When it came time for another assignment, Gallagher didn’t think twice about coming to Woods Hole and being out on the water again. “Growing up on the Cape I had always wanted to work in Woods Hole since I was a kid, and having the opportunity to operate a vessel out of here had been a dream,” he said. “I am an only child. My family knew going into my career that it was the needs of the service first when it came to assignment locations, but I don’t think they are complaining that I am back on the Cape for a few years.”
Since officially joining the crew on December 19, 2016, he has been busy settling into his cottage in Woods Hole and getting familiar with the Gloria Michelle, which spent the winter in New Bedford undergoing maintenance and upgrades.
“When I first visited the boat during leave a few summers ago, it was great to see how much work Doug Pawlishen (former OIC) and Andy Reynaga (current OIC) had put into the boat. It seemed like an amazing opportunity moving forward to keep up their work.”
He has also been able to see family and friends and adjust to living in New England again. “Being back North, let alone on Cape Cod, has been a transition from coastal Mississippi. Having to not deal with snow was a major perk of living in the South!”
In his spare time he enjoys watching and playing sports, reading, being out on the water and lounging on the beach. While at MMA, he was a four-year member of the baseball team and is looking forward to participating on the NEFSC softball team and joining other NEFSC team activities as his schedule permits.
At the moment, he is looking forward to the start of the 2017 operating season and getting back on the water. “I had the opportunity to sail last September for 10 days and I really enjoyed it. All the work being done this winter, especially the new winches and set-up of the back deck, makes me want to get underway soon.”
June 2018 Update: Chris Gallagher became the new Officer in Charge (OIC) of the R/V Gloria Michelle, succeeding Lt. Andrew Reynaga, at a Change of Command ceremony on June 12 in Woods Hole.
Ensign Andrew Reynaga
California Native Adjusting to Life in New England
Growing up in the desert of Los Angeles and spending some years in Hawaii did not prepare Andy Reynaga for snow, or for the unusually cold temperatures experienced this past winter on Cape Cod. After reporting for NOAA Corps duty at the Woods Hole Laboratory of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) on December 15, 2014, he has been busy adjusting to a new home, New England weather, and a new position.
Reynaga is the new Junior Officer in Charge (JOIC) on the 72-foot R/V Gloria Michelle. He is working with Captain and Officer in Charge Doug Pawlishen, the former JOIC who assumed command from LT. Anna Liza-Villard-Howe on December 17, 2014. In early January, Villard-Howe moved on to a new assignment as Assistant School Chief, NOAA Corps Officer Training Center at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Andrew Reynaga attended Sonora High School in North Orange County, California. A high school SCUBA program led to his decision to pursue a career in marine research. He enrolled at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2001 focused on invertebrates and algae within the kelp forest ecosystems, and becoming an American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) scientific diver. Reynaga received a B.S. degree in marine biology from UC Santa Cruz in 2005.
He spent five years managing the boating and diving operations for a research group at the Long Marine Laboratory at UC Santa Cruz, on the edge of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The group monitored a section of California's kelp forest ecosystem to provide information to policymakers, scientists, and the public. During time off in the winter he worked as a marine science educator aboard two ships operating off Catalina Island and Hawaii. He also spent time as a diver on marine debris mitigation along the Northwestern Hawaiian islands.
While at the Long Marine Lab a NOAA Corp recruiter reached out to his project leader looking for potential candidates. "Even after spending many nights aboard a NOAA Sanctuary boat and working in tandem with NOAA on several projects, I had no idea the NOAA Corps existed until the recruiter came," Reynaga said. "Looking to spend less time in the water and more time in the wheelhouse, I applied almost immediately."
Reynaga began training in August 2012 at the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center as a member of Basic Officer Training Class 120, the first group of officer candidates to train at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.
His first assignment after the Basic Officer Training Class was the 224-foot NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai, based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and diving for various coral reef projects around the tropical Pacific. "Every morning we would launch five small boats and recover them after their divers had finished for the day. During my two years, we visited over two dozen small islands in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and the main Hawaiian Islands." There were many memorable aspects to the assignment, from the ship's crew and command to seeing islands he had not seen before, and the chance to spend time on Midway Island.
The decision to come to Woods Hole for his next assignment was all about the boat. He holds a US Coast Guard 100 Ton Near Coastal Master's License with an STCW endorsement and various other boating certifications necessary for dive missions within NOAA and university research. With a background working on small boats between 17 and 35 feet and on a much larger vessel with the Hi'ialaka, Reynaga felt a tour on the Gloria Michelle was a great opportunity to learn the systems and maneuverability of a size class in between the two, and new to him.
Since arriving he has been kept busy learning about the Gloria Michelle and preparing for its first major cruise, the annual three-week spring groundfish survey in state waters for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. Major repairs have been made over the winter and spring aboard the Gloria Michelle, including replacement of the marine sanitation device, installation of a new marine head, and an engine rebuild. Installation of a generator and navigation equipment, metalwork on the rails and mast supports, fuel tank weld repairs, and reorganization of the machine shop, were among other items on the work list.
Despite the long list of repairs, it all came together as the ship departed May 3 to start the 2015 operating season. "We have put a lot of hard work and long hours into getting the boat prepared," he said. "Now I'd like to see a season with many successes and few surprises." One surprise occurred May 18, when a coolant hose had to be replaced. The ship returned to Woods Hole, made the repairs, and headed back out on May 19 to finish the remaining stations.
When not at work, Reynaga enjoys spending time with his wife Jennifer and 11-year-old son Branden. Many weekends, and many more to come in the months ahead, have been spent exploring New England. Visiting museums and national parks are family favorites. He also enjoys bowling, watching movies, playing basketball, and getting involved in wood projects. Parents hope to visit this summer, and with one brother and his wife's two sisters and three brothers, lots of family visits are in store.
"New England showed us our first real winter, but now that the weather is warmer we look forward to doing some kayaking and canoeing," he said of his family's first six months here. "So far New England has proven to be a welcomed change from our lives on the West Coast. The history in the area is remarkable. Now that we are acclimated, or at least now that the weather is warmer, it is beginning to feel like home."
Ensign Shannon Hefferan
Pennsylvania Native Finds Home on the Water in Woods Hole
Growing up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, far from the oceans, Shannon Hefferan had little experience with the ocean except on vacations. No one in her family lived near the water or knew anything about boats. She admits that stepping into a career with the NOAA Corps is still a mystery to her family, but one they are proud of. Many will be on hand June 1 as she begins a new and historic assignment as part of the first all female crew on a NOAA research vessel, the 72-foot Gloria Michelle based at the Woods Hole Laboratory of NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center.
Hefferan attended Peters Township High School, graduating in 2005, and went on to pursue a bachelor of science degree in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University. Although she was aware of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as an organization given her meteorology focus, she had never heard of the NOAA Corps. One of Hefferan’s classmates suggested she talk with a Penn State alum who was in the NOAA Corp to see if it might be a good fit. Two months after she graduated from Penn State in December 2009, she was training for the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York.
Her first assignment or billet after basic training with the NOAA Corps was aboard the 155-foot NOAA Ship Delaware II based at the NEFSC’s Woods Hole Laboratory. She joined the ship in the summer of 2010, but it was the 72-foot Gloria Michelle that she first stepped foot on in Woods Hole. “The Delaware II was in the Gulf of Mexico responding to the Deep Water Horizon oil spill at the time I reported to Woods Hole, and while waiting to be flown down to meet the ship the Gloria Michelle put me to good use rustbusting,” she recalls.
Her favorite part of the job, at least at the moment, is ship handling. “It makes our steaming and dreaming watches on the bridge interesting”. While in basic training, Hefferan says she didn’t think the job was for her. Although she had told everyone she’d just “try it out and see where I go from there,” she felt a bit out of place with no ship handling experience. Now, after two years on the Delaware II as the operations officer, the ship handling aspect or her job isn’t much of a concern “after lots of practice and good teachers” built up her confidence.
As for advice to other students interested in a career in the NOAA Corps, Hefferan says multitasking is the main definition of the job, especially for your first assignment at sea. “Eight hours of your underway time is spent looking out a window and doing ship operations. In a normal shore-side job you’d consider that quits for the day….but not on a NOAA ship. You may have 4 or 5 other collateral duties on the ship that need to be completed before you can go below to your cabin to rest.”
As she reports for duty as the Junior Officer in Charge on the Gloria Michelle June 1, 2012, Hefferan says the Corp has been a good fit for her. “The Gloria Michelle is where I want to be and I’m looking forward to it.”
2014 Update: Hefferan's last day on the R/V Gloria Michelle in Woods Hole was March 24, 2014. She is headed to a new assignment with the Aircraft Operations Center of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Florida, as a flight meteorologist, flying with NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters.
Ensign Douglas Pawlishen
Western Massachusetts Native Happy to be Back in New England
Doug Pawlishen could not be happier as he reported for NOAA Corps duty February 21, 2014 at the Woods Hole Laboratory of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). In his first few weeks on the job he has been busy meeting staff and getting up to speed on the 72-foot NOAA research vessel Gloria Michelle, which recently returned to Woods Hole from a winter shipyard period in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.
Pawlishen is the new Junior Officer in Charge (JOIC) on R/V Gloria Michelle. He is working with Captain and Officer in Charge LT Anna-Liza Villard-Howe as former-JOIC Shannon Hefferan moves on to a new assignment. Hefferan will soon join the Aircraft Operations Center of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Florida, as a flight meteorologist, flying with NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters.
Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, Pawlishen grew up in South Hadley, where he graduated from high school. At an early age he became interested in the oceans while snorkeling on family vacations. An experienced snowmobiler who also enjoys fresh and saltwater fishing, hunting, hiking and boating, a career working outdoors was not unexpected. He attended the nearby University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMass), earning a bachelor’s degree in natural resources with minors in criminal justice and wildlife conservation in May 2011.
While in high school and into college, he worked at his father’s auto repair shop and farm, operated snow removal equipment for a family friend, and became a call firefighter for the South Hadley District # 2 Fire Department. During summer breaks while in college he worked as a wildland firefighter for the National Park Service on the Cape Cod National Seashore. He also worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a wildland firefighter in the Black Hills National Forest in Custer, South Dakota. As a member of the Black Hills Helitack Crew, Pawlishen was part of an aerial firefighting team that used helicopters to fight fires in South Dakota and other western states including Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming.
“My original idea going into college was to get into environmental law enforcement, but after I learned about NOAA I got interested in the organization,” he recalls. “After I graduated from UMass, I had an unfortunate knee injury that required a lengthy rehabilitation. In my down time I began researching career opportunities within NOAA and came across the NOAA Corps. Once I did my research on the NOAA Corps I knew it was the right service for me. The Corps’ core values - Honor, Respect and Commitment - aligned perfectly with my plan for the future and I knew this was my chance to serve my country. I applied, interviewed, and was accepted into Basic Officer Training Class 119, the last class to train at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY.” Basic officer training is now conducted with the U.S. Coast Guard Officer Candidate School at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.
Pawlishen’s early interest in snorkeling led to certification as a NAUI Advanced Open Water SCUBA diver. He recently successfully completed NOAA’s Dive School, and is a NOAA Working Diver (NAUI Master Diver). NAUI is the National Association of Underwater Instructors.
He got his wish with his first NOAA Corps assignment: NOAA Ship Pisces, a 209-foot fisheries survey vessel homeported in Pascagoula, Mississippi. During that 20-month assignment, Pawlishen got to work in New England waters several times. Pisces is jointly used by the NEFSC and the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC). While assigned to the Pisces, Pawlishen spent time in waters off the East Coast and in the Gulf of Maine working on several NEFSC projects, including the first Integrated Pelagic Survey on the Northeast U.S. Shelf in February 2013.
In June 2013 he was detailed to the NEFSC’s Narragansett Laboratory in Rhode Island, running their 22-foot Boston Whaler with the Apex Predators Program during a shark tagging project in Delaware Bay. During that detail he visited the Woods Hole Laboratory and the R/V Gloria Michelle. After that visit Pawlishen knew that he wanted to sail aboard R/V Gloria Michelle for his next NOAA Corps assignment.
After learning several months ago that his request was granted, Pawlishen prepared for the move back to New England. He now lives in Pocasset, and although he still has family in South Hadley, several siblings are much closer to Woods Hole. A brother and sister-in-law live in Mattapoisett, and a sister lives in Boston.
“It’s great to be working in and around Massachusetts. I truly enjoy running into other graduates from the UMASS system who are in the same line of work. Having the opportunity to get out and work on the water leaves me smiling every single day,” he says of his new assignment. “I have always had a can-do attitude. I like doing things that are a bit out of the ordinary, and enjoy hands-on work. If it’s exciting and challenging, count me in. I am learning a lot, and look forward to getting up to speed with Lt. Villard-Howe as we prepare for the upcoming season. This is right where I want to be.”
December 2014 Update: Doug Pawlishen became the new Officer in Charge (OIC) of the R/V Gloria Michelle, succeeding Lt. Anna-Liza Villard-Howe, at a Change of Command ceremony on December 17 in Woods Hole.
Lt. Carl Rhodes
All Rhodes Lead to Woods Hole
For Carl Rhodes, assignment as the Officer in Charge (OIC) aboard the R/V Gloria Michelle has been a good fit.
A graduate of the Maine Maritime Academy with a bachelor’s degree in marine science and an associate’s degree in small boat operation, Rhodes joined the ship in January 2009 after spending nearly three years on the 209-foot NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson doing fisheries research in the Bering Sea. He came to Woods Hole in January of 2009 to become the Junior Officer in Charge (JOIC) of the Gloria Michelle; in June of 2010 he was promoted to Officer in Charge (OIC).
“My skill set, my education and experiences are ideal for this assignment,” he said during a visit to the Gloria Michelle, docked at the NEFSC’s Woods Hole laboratory and part of the lab’s fleet of research vessels. “I loved being on the Dyson, which spent about 230 days at sea, but this assignment is a great fit for me. It is atypical for a NOAA Corps Officer to have back-to-back sea assignments, but it enables me to do everything I love. It is very hands-on and I get to do everything, to be a jack of all trades.”
Rhodes grew up in the small town of Bayfield in southwest Colorado but had a Cape Cod connection as a descendant of the Nye family in Sandwich, Massachusetts, who were among the town’s first settlers. His father and grandfather had both been in the Navy but pursued careers in carpentry, painting and other building trades in Colorado. Despite having a fascination with the ocean, Rhodes says he probably would have followed in their footsteps if he had not seen a flyer in the high school guidance office for the Summer Sea Semester at the Maine Maritime Academy.
“The program opened my eyes to research vessels and the marine sciences, and everything fell into place.” He spent six years in Castine, Maine, four getting a bachelor’s degree and two more earning the associates degree plus a 200-ton master’s license through the U.S. Coast Guard.
He soon landed a job at the Mass Bay Lines in Boston, serving as a captain, naturalist and “whatever else was needed” aboard their vessels doing harbor and sightseeing cruises. After a brief stint as captain of the 72-foot R/V Cachalot for Nekton Dive Cruises in Florida, researching recreational dive sites and installing ecological moorings in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, he returned to Mass Bay Lines and applied to the NOAA Corps program.
His first assignment after basic training was aboard the Oscar Dyson, named for a former Alaska fisherman and fishing industry leader and based in Kodiak, Alaska. “I started out as the safety officer, later serving as navigation officer, medical officer and finally operations officer. When the assignment ended, he requested Woods Hole. “All roads seem to lead to Woods Hole!”
In his free time, Rhodes enjoys sailing, hiking, rock climbing, photography and SCUBA diving. His interest in SCUBA has led him to becoming a NOAA working diver where he gets to combine his love for being underwater with his work duties.
Rhodes duties as OIC on the Gloria Michelle will end on June 1, 2012, and he’ll assume new shoreside duties as the Deputy Chief of the NEFSC Ecosystems Survey Branch as well as the Northeast Marine Facilities Operations Manager, working for Mike Abbott in the Woods Hole Laboratory’s Port Office. He will likely still manage to find himself sailing on the various NOAA research vessels in the northeast as a temporary augmenter, or relief crew member.
In October 2012 he will become a student at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, enrolled in its graduate facilities management program. He will be attending classes every other weekend for 36 months, which will allow him to continue his normal work duties uninterrupted. Rhodes feels that facilities management will be a good fit with his future assignments and interests. “Facilities come in all shapes and sizes, and there are lots of opportunities. As long as I am around the ocean I’ll be happy.”
And these days Carl Rhodes has a lot to be happy about.
Lt Anna-Liza Villard-Howe
Officer in Charge and First Female Captain
Love of Boats Comes Naturally to NOAA Corps Officer
LT JG Anna-Liza Villard-Howe assumed the duties of Junior Office in Charge of NOAA’s R/V Gloria Michelle in June 2010. Since then she has performed preventive and cosmetic maintenance on the vessel, served as watch officer (sole operator) during deck and fishing operations for the annual Gulf of Maine shrimp and groundfish surveys, managed additional crew and scientists while underway, and performed duties required while the vessel was in drydock in Rhode Island.
On June 1, 2012, she will “fleet up” to Officer in Charge of the NEFSC’s 72-foot research vessel, a part of the career process for NOAA Corp officers whose assignments alternate between land and sea (ship). Being assigned to NOAA’s Woods Hole Laboratory and the Gloria Michelle seemed almost destined.
Villard-Howe grew up on Chappaquiddick Island, off of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts and attended high school at Falmouth Academy, graduating in 1997. Off to Vassar College, she spent spring semester of her junior year at the University of Western Australian in Perth. She graduated in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Her senior thesis while at Vassar: The effects of rural electrification on dairy farming in the Tennessee Valley.
She thought about a career after college as an actuary, but soon realized it was not meant to be and discovered she was much happier being on or around the water. Her father, David Howe, is a retired naval reserve officer and admiralty lawyer; her mother, Elizabeth Villlard, is a longtime resident of Martha’s Vineyard and well-known local historian who also works as a captain on the “Chappy” ferry. A sister, Catherine, lives in Boston and works as a paralegal.
After college Villard-Howe worked as a school and tour bus driver on Martha’s Vineyard, and as a captain and deckhand on the Naushon and Chappaquiddick Island ferries. She also worked briefly on tug boats in Buzzards Bay. She holds a 500 Ton Mates License as well as a Class B Commercial Drivers License.
A desire to increase her professional maritime experience led Villard-Howe to apply to the NOAA Corps. She excelled in the basic officer training class at the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York, graduating second in her class in 2006 and as the only candidate allowed to dock the T/V Kings Pointer.
Her first assignment as a junior officer and navigation officer on the 231-foot NOAA Ship Rainier, sent her to Seattle in December 2006. The Rainier, designed and outfitted for conducting coastal hydrographic surveys in support of NOAA’s nautical charting program, is named for Mount Rainier in Washington state.
Villard-Howe spent two and half years on the Rainier, conducting hydrographic surveys in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. From Rainier, she moved to a land assignment in 2009 to Silver Spring, Maryland, to work for a year as Flag Lieutenant to the Director of the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) and Director of the NOAA Corps, Rear Admiral Jonathan Bailey. (Admiral Bailey also served as Officer in Charge on the Gloria Michelle early in his career.)
Anna-Liza currently lives in Bourne with her husband, Tim Michaud, and their dog, Hank.
While the vessel is docked at the Woods Hole Laboratory, plenty is still going on. Dockside work following a shipyard maintenance period this winter was busy, with preparations for a fleet inspection in March adding to the mix. The annual spring groundfish survey in state waters for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries was conducted May 7- 22. Next up: equipment testing work in late June, followed by the annual Gulf of Maine shrimp survey in July and the fall groundfish survey in state waters.
Now a Lieutenant, Villard-Howe is also certified as a NOAA working diver, inspired in her pre-NOAA days “by having to free dive in May to clear line on a boat’s propeller.” She also spends time visiting schools to talk with students about opportunities in the NOAA Corps, or participating in diving programs at the lab for various needs. In January of this year she was certified as a NOAA Divemaster.
On June 1, Villard-Howe will assume duties as Officer in Charge of the Gloria Michelle. Ensign Shannon Hefferan, currently assigned to the NOAA Ship Delaware II as a communications officer, will join Villard-Howe as Junior Officer in Charge on the Gloria Michelle, the first all-female crew in the history of the vessel, and perhaps for any NOAA research vessel. The current Officer in Charge, Carl Rhodes, will be moving to another assignment ashore.
When not at work, Villard-Howe enjoys include knitting and crochet, ballroom dancing, motorcycle riding, and music. She sang in the NAACP Gospel choir on Martha’s Vineyard, and worked as crew on Royal Perth Yacht Club and Edgartown Yacht Club vessels. She also enjoys Ham radio, sailing and racing, and marlinspike seamanship (or ropework, the set of processes and skills used to make, repair and use rope).
For the next year or so, until the completion of this billet or assignment, Villard-Howe can be found on the water, happy to be driving the boat!
January 2015 Update: Following a December 17, 2014 Change of Command ceremony, Villard-Howe moved on to a new NOAA Corps assignment as Assistant School Chief, NOAA Corps Officer Training Center at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.