On November 15, 2019, the crew of NOAA Ship Rainier hosted a change of command in Valejo, California. Cmdr. Sam Greenaway accepted command of Rainier, relieving Capt. Ben Evans in a ceremony led by Capt. Michael Hopkins, commanding officer of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) Marine Operations Center-Pacific.
In his congratulatory remarks to Evans, Rear Adm. Shep Smith, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, stated, “A change of command marks not just a change of leadership, but the end of an epoch in the history of a ship, and the beginning of a new one. This has been a remarkable command for Capt. Evans and Rainier.”
The commanding officer of a NOAA ship has ultimate responsibility for the ship, its activities, and the safety of all aboard. The commanding officer of a hydrographic ship is also the chief scientist with responsibility for the execution and success of the ship’s assigned survey operations.
During his tenure as commanding officer, Evans oversaw Rainier’s traditional work in Alaska, as well as a new era in collaborative mapping between Coast Survey and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary to improve NOAA’s nautical charts as well as provide critical mapping data for the management of the sanctuary. Evans also led Rainier’s interagency work on the California Deepwater Investigations and Groundtruthing project, fulfilling requirements for NOAA nautical charting and ecosystem assessment needs while also addressing the needs of the U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the State of California. Evans also oversaw the ship’s pivot in operations when they traveled to Hawaii to perform critical observations and dive operations in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, while its launches conducted hydrographic surveys around the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Oahu.
Dr. Randy Kosaki, the deputy superintendent for the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, acknowledged this effort in a letter read during the ceremony, “Capt. Hopkins, Capt. Evans, and the engineering team are due special thanks and recognition for pulling off a minor miracle in terms of the dockside reconfiguration of the Rainier from a survey ship into a dive platform. I’d also like to recognize the officers and crew of the Rainier for providing the highest level of customer service that I’ve ever experienced on a NOAA platform.”
Evans’s next assignment will be as the National Ocean Service operations director in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Cmdr. Sam Greenaway most recently served as executive officer of NOAA Ship Fairweather, overseeing the day-to-day administration and business activities of the ship. Just prior to this position, he served as the chief of the Hydrographic Systems and Technology Branch at NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. In this position, Greenaway led efforts to improve the efficiency of hydrographic data collection through development and application of automated data processing and use of unmanned survey vessels. He attended Brown University, graduating with a bachelor of science in physics in 1998. He earned a master of science in ocean engineering from the University of New Hampshire in 2010. He was commissioned in the NOAA Corps as an ensign in 2004 with his first assignment on Rainier.
The work conducted on and from Rainier during the 2018 and 2019 field seasons has prepared the ship and its crew for its summer 2020 mission in the Mariana Islands. This interdisciplinary expedition will blend the ship’s traditional hydrographic survey mission with the diving-based research techniques utilized in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in 2019. The Marianas mission will support NOAA’s coral reef ecosystem research goals in these U.S. waters, and produce the first comprehensive seafloor maps of the region for science and nautical charting.