The Team

The search for the SS Pacific required a large team to manage the project, operate the R/V SeaBlazer, and to build the various pieces of equipment needed to locate and recover items from the wreck. This large group has volunteered their time and energy to the project with hopes that their efforts might someday be rewarded. They all look forward to a time when they can visit the museum we plan to build, somewhere in the Puget Sound region, dedicated to the wreck of the SS Pacific and other important maritime artifacts.

Rockfish Management Team

Andy Hall, Board Member – Andy is an attorney living on the Seattle area. His day job is in high tech, but he aspires to retire and someday be a docent at the museum.

Rick Hansen, Vice President – Ricks has worked on a number of other shipwreck projects, including the SS Islander and the SS Brother Jonathan. He is a member of several professional shipwreck groups. Rick provides sage and wise advice to the team.

Jeff Hummel, President – Jeff’s role is to raise capital, plan future activities and keep up the enthusiasm. He designs all of the underwater equipment and maintains the R/V SeaBlazer.

Avery Munson, Consultant – Avery Munson helped with the salvage of WWII planes in Lake Washington. He went on to successfully lead the team that discovered and recovered specie from the wreck of the SS New York.

The Discovery Team

Activities on the boat are broken down into two crews; Boat Crew and Technical Crew. The Boat Crew was responsible for driving the boat, feeding the entire crew, and keeping us safe. The Technical Crew was responsible for what we call “entertainment”, which meant side-scanning the bottom and running the camera sleds and ROVs. The Boat Crew was always happiest when the Tech Crew was gobbling up real estate with the sonar or looking at something interesting on the video feed.

Each expedition included 6 to 8 people across the two crews. (We preferred 8 but we could not always round up enough people to fill slots on both crews.) If we were short of people, we tried to make sure we had a complete boat crew and skimped on the tech crew. Sleep was always the biggest issue, eventually the inevitable fatigue that would set in. We were most efficient when we could operate 24/7 but this did not always happen.

Team Members

Dave Best: Dave is our quintessential programmer, network engineer, and computer guru. Dave was visiting the boat with a friend around the time we were testing our first ROV. It was an accidental encounter, but he quickly became an irreplaceable team member. We no longer go to sea without him. His scientific approach and detailed note taking saved us from many self-inflicted technical problems. He spent countless hours working out very technical problems with the ROVs and the vessel’s network. He was somebody we could count on to get the job done right.

Sean Breeding: Sean is an expert on every detail of Puget Sound and the Salish sea. He is a writer, boater, and licensed Captain. He is what we call a “nighttime” captain; somebody with enough experience to safely drive while the rest of the crew is sleeping. 

Keith Baker: Keith is a new addition to our crew and our most-experienced captain. Keith started his career working on fishing boats and crewed on the SeaBlazer when it was fishing out of Astoria, Oregon. Keith moved on to larger and larger vessels, eventually gaining his 1600-ton license. Keith has the ocean experience and safety sense that makes it easy sleep when he’s on watch. 

Ben Downs: There are few fisherman working the Washington and Oregon coasts with as much experience as Ben. He started working on the deck of a fishing boat in the early 1970s, then became a captain. He has done it all, owned boats, run boats for others, and invented a lot of new gear. Ben’s life long curiosity about what lies on the bottom helped us find the wreck. He’s always been the first to try any new gadget that might help catch more fish. His meticulous record keeping and recall of details on each fishing tow helped us reduce our search area. 

David Downs: Cut from the same cloth as his father, David is another of the key “night captains”; a guy who can run the boat when everybody else is asleep. David is a hard worker so it was a problem to get him to follow the watch schedule, because he always wanted to keep working. David carries with him the ability to fix problems quickly and efficiently. He felt his role was to make sure we did not get hurt and make it home safely, which we did.

Cameron Downs: Also cut from the same cloth as his father and grandfather, but slightly more astute with a video game controller, Cameron is famous among the Tech Crew for using all of our limited offshore internet access in one day, from downloading movies and for eating ALL of the chocolate muffins on the first day of a ten-day trip.  

Phil Drew: Another new crew member assigned to the Tech Crew, Phil originally joined because he thought it would be a good chance to see some whales offshore. Short of ROV pilots on his first trip, Phil quickly became a skilled ROV operator. He recovered the first piece of “coal” from the wreck site, in heavy current and surrounded by black cod, which constantly rammed the ROV. The “coal” turned out to be a nice black river rock broken in half, but it was still the first item recovered from the site.

Duane Engle: Duane is truly a jack-of-all-trades. Nobody is as familiar with every system on the boat and with the ROVs as Duane. This was often because he was the one who built many of the things we used on every trip. No other crew member has spent more time on this project than Duane. He is also really good at reading manuals, which is important when, at  “zero dark thirty”, something goes wrong and needs to be fixed. Duane filled a dual role on the boat; sometimes Tech Crew and sometimes Boat Crew. He makes a pretty decent key lime pie and dabbles with scone mixes from time to time. Duane has a bone-dry sense of humor and sometimes tells jokes that take days to unravel. 

Chip Forsyth: Voted most eligible Tech Crew bachelor, Chip was always ready to help fix or build almost anything we needed. Chip was a quick learner on the side scan sonar and any of the back deck activities, which require handling heavy gear in rough seas. Chip always came completely ready to do what was needed for success. Also noteworthy, Chip was the only crew member who ever motored ashore in port to attend a party in a foreign country (where everyone got COVID).

Cameron Jones: A gentleman’s gentleman, Cameron possesses the Old World charm you thought no longer existed. Known to wrangle up a mean breakfast, Cameron worked on the boat crew on several trips. Like so many of the other crew he was always eager to help and pitched in on many of the mundane but necessary tasks needed to make each trip a success.

Sarah Haberstroh: Our first ROV pilot trained to operate ROVs. Sarah’s experience in the US Navy and work habits made her a natural fit among the Tech Crew. Sarah had the unique ability to operate the ROV even when the controller was improperly configured, meaning that up/down or forward/reverse were not always the same from one ROV session to the next. ROV pilots have to drive the ROV without thinking about which way to move the joystick and Sarah was a natural despite these problems.

Arnie Hammerman: A seasoned veteran of the marine industry and life long boater, Arnie was perfectly prepared to join our team. His scruffy, COVID-inspired grooming left him with a slightly pirate-like appearance that was appreciated by all. Arnie was always willing to help with whatever was needed and was also very handy around the galley. He qualified as another “night time” captain and could be relied upon to keep us safe.

Peter Hall: Peter likes to build things. He built our two camera sleds and assembled much of the ROV electronics. He was one of the few crew members who had previously worked on research vessels and had worked with underwater equipment. Peter is also the only crew member to build a machine that makes martinis. Peter served on both the Tech Crew and the Boat Crew. Often the prankster, he was good at making light of technical or mechanical challenges, like the time he put a pirate face on the sonar towfish after it had crashed into the side of subterranean cliff. Peter was always ready to come up with interesting ideas about what might be ailing some piece of equipment.

Herb Hunt: Herb was the lead Captain on many of our trips. Technically competent and capable of building and making anything with great precision, his past career as an architect provided him with a keen sense of how to approach many thorny technical and managerial tasks. Herb was a strong activist in supporting the claim that the sonar image of the wreck was the wreck, even though others doubted this claim. As lead Captain, Herb set the onboard schedules and divided up the work among the crew; not easy among a volunteer crew. Herb also helped us find a lot of new crew members.

Kevin Hummel: Brother to our founder, Kevin shares many of the same skills found in the rest of the crew. If there was ever a job that needed precision, Kevin was our first choice. He not only went to sea with us, he often helped in the days leading up to our departure, giving us a better chance to get off the dock on time (which is always very difficult). Not as familiar with life on the ocean, he once made the careful observation, “It is rougher than I thought it would be. The boat pitches and rolls a lot.”. 

Dave Maeser: Another “night time” captain with the right experience for the job, Dave started his career as a commercial diver in the Gulf of Mexico. He was helpful in bringing in other crew members to build our team. When Dave was not driving the SeaBlazer, he was driving his very own full-featured double-ended ferry boat. We asked Dave to join us on many more trips than he was able to attend due to running his own boat. 

Ian MacRae: A seasoned offshore boater who has crossed oceans, Ian served on the Boat Crew with distinction. He, among so many others, was ready to help with any task that needed to be completed. A retired attorney, Ian often shared his carefully worded thoughts and ideas on many of the important decisions we had to make.

Trevor MacLachlan: Trevor is a commercial captain. He owns a business focused on training recreational boaters and delivering boats up and down the coast. He is what we would call a “night time” captain with the right skills to drive the boat in any conditions. 

Rick Pratt: Life-long friend of Jeff Hummel and early supporter of the project, Rick served on the Tech Crew. Rick also often took on one of the most important and least appreciated jobs on the boat, provisioning. Figuring out if we had enough peanut butter or hamburgers was a thankless job. Rick is a trained scientist and applied a sense of skepticism to many of our alleged accomplishments. He helped us apply a science-based thought process to our findings. 

Rick Peters: Rick is a semi-retired fire fighter and licensed captain. He was our head Captain on several trips. His professional demeanor and skill fit right in. Rick helped prepare the boat and was often out on Puget Sound during our many training and testing trips. He was what we called a “night time” captain and always kept us safe. Rick took on a captain job in San Diego to gain more experience and to prepare for our next phase, which will require a larger vessel.

Giorgio Pompei: One of our most enthusiastic crew members, Giorgio is a licensed Able Bodied Seaman (AB), and when not working with us, he travels the world onboard a merchant marine vessel. Often in far flung places when we needed him, Giorgio was unable to join us on as many trips as he wanted. He was very helpful when we were preparing for our trips and spent a lot of time organizing and planning our onboard provisions. An excellent cook, Giorgio’s time onboard was appreciated by all. 

Wayne Proceiviat: Wayne heads up our land based support team. He has worked tirelessly to build and maintain nearly every part of the ship. You cannot look at any part of the boat with seeing his handy work. Always available any day or night no matter the hour. We would have never left the dock without his help.

Jeff Sullivan: If you went to a bar and had two drinks, and then on the way home, your car ended up in the ditch, Jeff is the guy you would call. No matter the hour or the need, he was always ready to help. Onboard, Jeff was sometimes affected by the mal-de-mare but was most famous for his witty remarks and tales of his various past escapades.

Steve Toomey: Steve was the first captain to take SeaBlazer on an ocean expedition after a nearly four year refit, which replaced every wire, hose and system on the boat. Steve was helpful in getting the boat settled in Seattle after moving it up from Astoria, Oregon where it was purchased. Steves efforts pre-date Rockfish, but were helpful in getting us one step closer to finding the ship.

Paul Troka: Paul’s experience as a commercial fisherman was very useful. With nearly fifty years under his belt, he knew his way around the boat and was very good at building and repairing things in a quick and efficient manner. Paul’s skills driving the boat were also appreciated, as well as the smoked salmon and black cod treats he always brought with him. Another “night time” captain, Paul had the skills to keep us out of trouble.

Chris Watts:  An entrepreneur and boater with computer skills were just the right combination to earn Chris a spot on the crew. His skills were always in high demand on the boat. Chris worked on the Tech Crew and helped with the ROV and camera systems. A quick learner, Chris worked with Dave Best to keep all of our systems working. 

Greg Wright: By far our number one groupie and fan, Greg was, and is, always ready to pitch in and help. His enthusiasm for the search was infectious. Greg worked on the Tech Crew and was a quick learner on running the winch during our side-scan runs.  Greg had a good sense of the historic effort in which we were engaged. He loved every minute onboard, except when suffering from the mal-de-mare, which he powered through.