The captain of the ship was Wes Hill, a highly experienced seaman who has been at sea for a total of 26 years, and with Scripps Institution of Oceanography for 23 of those years. Born in Central Pennsylvania, he did not come from a sea-faring family, but attended school with the Merchant Marines and served in the Navy Reserves from 1987-1994.
Captain Hill spends 6-7 months per year at sea. He has worked in every ocean on the planet and enjoys being at sea. One of the joys of his work is visiting new places. He says that he is in new ports virtually every year. Last year, he visited Danang, Vietnam and Durban, South Africa for the first time. When asked if he has a favorite port, he cannot answer quickly. “My favorite port in the 90’s was probably Easter Island. It was magical then. But there are too many tourists now. Today, I’d have to say that I really love Taiwan.î
Hill has great admiration for the great explorers of the past. We tend to think the easy stuffs been done, but what those guys did is amazing. He showed us Pilot Charts based on information gained 150 years ago. We really just need to know about the world we live in. The oceans cover most of the Earth’s surface. We need to know what’s in it, how it works, why it’s important to us and how to take care of it.
For Hill, is it a unique and satisfying role to captain a research vessel and help scientists fulfill their mission. This particular mission is student-run and the science team is comparatively young. Hill takes great pride in working with them to help them achieve their goals.