Richard Chase is Chief Mate aboard the R/V Endeavor, as well as a relief captain. He is one step below Captain McMunn, in that he is responsible as well for the goings on aboard the ship from bow to stern as well as the personnel, and assists the Captain wherever needed. Richard is very busy in his days with running the ship during his watch and reporting all the happenings aboard back to the captain.
He was born in Concord, Massachusetts but spent most of his life in Cape Cod. Growing up, he spent time on and around the water but was not set on making a career of it just yet. Richard attended Suffolk University and received degrees in Philosophy and Government. Due to the climate of the economy then, he found a job in construction and worked in that field for several years. He later got into working aboard the ferry boats in Massachusetts and started learning more about a sea-going career.
Richard then worked on two graduate degrees: one at Emerson in TV Productions and one later at University of California, Berkley in Computer Science. With those experiences he worked as a producer of a TV network and later as a manager of a software company, respectively, before the “Dot-coms” went down. It was around then, that he decided to head back to the ocean. He worked with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Captained a supply boat in Gulf, and was even set to be transferred to the Deep Water Horizon, the rig that had the unfortunate explosions resulting in the tragic oil spill last year.
When he was working around Newport, RI he heard the R/V Endeavor was in need of an Able Bodied Seaman. He started out and worked his way up through the ranks over the past 20 years or so. He is what is considered a “Hawspiper” in this field, meaning he did not go to a school or have official training, but instead worked his way up through the ranks to where he is today. The term comes from a metaphor comparing a sailor climbing the ranks to climbing up the ship’s anchor chain through the “haws pipe,” the pipe that allows the chain to come in through the hull and onto the deck. It is something that is not as common anymore, and takes a lot of hard work and self-determination.
Richard loves the travel that comes with this position, but like most says the time away is very tough. He has really enjoyed going to San Diego, Bermuda, and Reykjavík, Iceland. One of his most vivid memories comes from when he was working with Wood Hole. They were out in the Pacific, using Alvin to explore the hydrothermal vents; Dr. Sylvia Earle, world-renown marine biologist and author, was the lead investigator. He remembers looking down at the deck below and seeing everyone jumping around, excited beyond words. They had discovered there was actually life around these vents that spew out gas and heat upwards of 400 degrees Celsius. This finding rocked the marine biology world, in that there were species adapted to live near these extremes and survive off of chemosynthetic bacteria. That’s just another example of being aboard a research vessel in the right place, at the right time.
Richard recommends to anyone interested in possibly following a sea-going life, to test the waters first. He previously taught several types of sailing outward bound programs to high schoolers, and feels it is a good idea for students to see if this is the type of career they want before investing time in a degree. Find out if you work well in extreme conditions, or if you easily get sea sick. If it is still for you, then he recommends researching the type of career you want and definitely to get a degree.
When Richard is home in Massachusetts he enjoys time reading, rowing his Dory, and sailing. Most of his recreational activities now revolve around the water.