Engineer Kevin Fisk
checks the control panels for the ships engines to make sure
all is operating well.
checks one of the drive shafts to make sure it doesnt
What are your main responsibilities as Chief Engineer?
I am responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the ship's power plant.
This includes the engines, fresh water system, sanitation, electricity, air conditioning
and deck machinery. The ship is like a small city that needs all the services
the people in the city require. I have to make all that happen. Seven people
work for me: three engineers, three oilers, and one electrician.
So what did you want to be when you grew up? How did you end up being a ships
When I was young, I wanted to be just like my father who is an electrician. In
fact, my brother ended up working with my Dad. I spent some time at a vocational
school, which I enjoyed because I really liked hands-on learning and tinkering
with things. I then went to Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) with the goal
of becoming an electrical engineer. I started going to sea, and fell in love
with it. I graduated from MMA with a Marine Engineering degree in 1986.
My first job was in the Merchant Marine as an engineer. I worked on a tramp steamer
that took U.S. government relief supplies to Pakistan. After six months, I decided
to leave the Merchant Marine. I made a trip to Hawaii on the RV Atlantis
II from WHOI. That was the beginning of my career on oceanographic research
What do you enjoy most about your job?
As chief engineer, I like the challenge of keeping all the equipment functioning
and the plant operating efficiently and safely. Managing my staff is an interesting
but time-consuming part of being Chief. It is not something that they teach you
in school. I dont get as many opportunities now to repair things and get
my hands dirty, because my staff does most of that work. I get left with the
Working on RV Atlantis, I find the research that the scientists do very
interesting. I really enjoy seeing them getting excited over their work. I also
enjoy the travel. I have been around the world once and met many interesting
people. I believe that the RV Atlantis is an ambassador for the whole
U.S. oceanographic fleet, so I am proud to be on board.
What is a typical day like for you?
My day begins at 6 a.m. with an early visit to the engine room. I then chat with
the captain and steward to make sure I am up to date with everything that is
going on. After breakfast, I do office work, some of which relates to making
sure we have sufficient equipment and supplies on board. But a lot of my work
involves longer-term planning for maintenance and replacement of the equipment.
When possible, I do like to spend time in the engine room tinkering with equipment.
What do you do in your spare time?
I like to read history books and suspense novels when I am on board. When I am
at home, I like to spend time with my family. I have a 30-foot motor boat that
we take on family outings. I also like to golf and bike. If I am somewhere warm,
I like to scuba dive.
If you could start all over again, would you have chosen the same career path?
Absolutely! This job has opened up doors for me. I have had the opportunity to
see places and met people that I never have had if had I taken a different path.
The one thing I do not like is being so far from family for eight months of the
year. But that was a life style choice I made when I became a chief engineer.