Richard Smith “Chief” In Memoriam

Richard Smith, In Memoriam – remembering ‘Chief’

With sadness, the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) has received news of the passing of former BIOS staff member, Richard ‘Chief’ Smith.

For twenty-nine years ‘Chief’ was the chief engineer on BIOS’s R/V Atlantic Explorer (RVAE). The son of a Navy sailor and a member of the U.S. Merchant Marines, Chief began his nautical career working out of Key West and Apalachicola as a shrimper in the 1970’s. He then moved on to crewing aboard tug boats and supply boats in Florida and Louisiana before landing the engineer position on the Seward Johnson II, later purchased by BIOS and renamed the Atlantic Explorer.

Chief knew everything about the RVAE; every nook and cranny, every cable, hose and screw.  “He was an invaluable wealth of knowledge,” stated colleague Nick Matthews. “He was the best engineer that I ever sailed with,” said George Gunther, captain of the Atlantic Explorer.

Quentin Lewis, BIOS marine superintendent, had this to say about Chief’s passing:

“Chief Richard was probably the most dedicated professional engineer I have ever had the pleasure of working with. His years of experience and varied background gave him a unique perspective on his duties and responsibilities as Chief Engineer. His dedication and professionalism are what I call “old school” – a call to duty above all else. His work through this past shipyard period, while he was fighting a hideous disease, and fighting the effects of the chemotherapy, and finally seeing the ship get underway on schedule, is something that very, very few people could have accomplished. He did it without one word of complaint; it was his job, and he was going to complete his final task. Night watches for me will never be the same, because the time that I got to spend with him, listening to stories from his past, is something I will never be able to forget or to replace. For me, he will always be the Chief. The one, and the only.”

Earlier this year in March, Chief officially retired to spend time with his wife, Billyanne, and his family with plans to ride and tour on his Harley Davidson motorcycles. The staff and board of BIOS extend its sincerest condolences to Chief’s family.

Read his published obituary here.