A New Marine Superintendent at the Helm

This spring, Quentin Lewis, a long time captain for the BIOS-operated research vessel Atlantic Explorer, joined the staff as the Institute’s marine superintendent. Lewis, who is 54 and hails from North Carolina, replaced Ron Harelstad in the position. Lewis is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marines Academy, spent over a decade as the marine superintendent for Duke University, and ran a small business delivering vessels on the East and Gulf coasts. Lewis’ wife, Lisa, is a regional business manager for a group of radio stations in North Carolina. They have an 11-year-old daughter, Samantha. Here Lewis details his involvement with BIOS, his family’s maritime history, and the projects he’s involved with as he begins full time employment with the Institute.

How he came to work at BIOS:
In 2007 there was a need for a second captain, so Lee Black, the marine superintendent at BIOS asked about my interest in contracting work for the Atlantic Explorer, which I began that April. For the past 8 years, I have been working about 150 to 170 days a year for BIOS, rotating with another captain about every other month. That continued until I took my current position this spring.

His business making on water vessel deliveries:
My job was to move boats around for clients. The owners of tugs, ferries and yachts would contact me to arrange for a crew when they wanted their boats moved from point A to B. It was a small business inspired by a friend who worked for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Ferry Division; he knew of several different shipyards that needed boats moved. Eventually my work for BIOS became my primary contract so I started hiring crews to complete my other contract deliveries.

A family maritime history:
I grew up in a small coastal town with a rich maritime history outside Beaufort, North Carolina. Several people in my family have been going to sea for years; one grandfather was in the Coast Guard, and my other grandfather was a Merchant Marine captain on a tanker.  When I went to high school I had planned to go to the Coast Guard Academy, but my advisor suggested that I apply to the Naval Academy, as well as the Merchant Marine Academy. I decided to go into the commercial side of things with the Merchant Marines.

Why the BIOS marine superintendent job appealed to him:
I felt if ever there was a job I would be qualified to do, this is it. I’d been marine superintendent at Duke University for 13 years so I knew what the job entailed. I had been the senior-most captain on the Atlantic Explorer for more than eight years, so I knew what that side of the operation involved. And I figured with those two things in my background, plus my education with the Academy, it would be a unique opportunity to bring my experience here.

Projects on his plate at BIOS:
Early next year we have a significant period of maintenance planned for the Atlantic Explorer. Although the ship is approaching the age of 35, the vessel still has many good years of service to BIOS and the oceanographic community ahead. We expect the Atlantic Explorer to be at the shipyard for 10 weeks, from mid-January through late March 2017, and we are already busy all of the preparations needed to make this shipyard stay a success.

What he enjoys about his work at BIOS:
Since we are a single-ship operation, our marine operations department staff has to wear multiple hats. We have an incredible team in the office and on the ship. I like that I don’t have to build a great department; it is already here. I can just get myself into it and help lead by good example. I really like that the job is never the same two days in a row. I enjoy supporting the scientists and seeing people leave BIOS with their experience here a very positive one and with their research goals met.