Benjamin Van Mooy

Associate Scientist
Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution


I had my first major cruise as a Chief Scientist aboard the Oceanus.  For me, this was a major event in my career, and I managed to only keep my excitement just below the surface as we left the WHOI dock.  Not knowing the Oceanus crew yet, I expected eye-rolling and grumbling from them as I raced around the ship like a kid in an amusement park trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing.  Instead, they were courteous, stepped in when they needed to, and  really helped me get my legs (literally and figuratively).   The Oceanus crew's professionalism in the face of my inexperience  demonstrates just how deeply they cared about the scientific success of cruises aboard their ship.

Funny sea story: Before an Oceanus cruise out of Jeddah Saudi Arabia, two private security specialists joined the ship with the charge of repelling pirates.  After a day of negotiations, Chief Scientist Amy Bower, Captain Diego Mello, and others convinced the powers that be that the danger of pirates was minimal and that it was more important that we had the two berths for scientists.  As the two "Blackwater guys" (our nickname for them, we didn't know who they worked for) disembarked, they carried off these enormous duffle bags.  Someone amongst us cracked "carrying off your machine guns?", and one of the Blackwater guys replied "Nope, your ship's powder locker is very well stocked".  We spent the whole cruise wondering where the powder locker was, and what it contained; Captain Diego never gave up any details about Oceanus' secret weapons.