Coastal News

MBARI Welcomes Kaya Johnson as New Director of Marine Operations

From the crew who manage MBARI’s research vessels to the pilots and engineers who launch and operate their cutting-edge underwater robots, the Division of Marine Operations is the backbone of MBARI’s work.

Recently, MBARI welcomed Kaya Johnson as their new Director of Marine Operations. Johnson will oversee MBARI’s seagoing assets, including their three research vessels, deep-sea cabled observatory, and 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,” added 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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