Rick Sanger (#44) and Nick O’Sadcia (#45) are the newest Alvin pilots, making them qualified to pilot the sub on science expeditions in the deep sea.
Rick Sanger is a research engineer at WHOI and has worked as an Alvin electrical engineer for nearly two decades, helping reconceive the electrical side of the submersible through two overhauls.
Sanger came to the Alvin Group after a career at the Marine Biological Laboratory and has decades of engineering, boating, and diving experience, said Alvin Group Lead Bruce Strickrott. “He built some of the most complex systems on the sub and knows them both electronically and mechanically.”
Nick O'Sadcia first came to WHOI as a Cape Cod Community College intern—through a program run by NDSF user Julie Huber—and joined the Alvin Group in 2018. He is presently an at-sea Engineer II.
“Nick came into the program as a newly graduated mechanical engineer,” Strickrott said. “He came up through the disassembly, reassembly, and getting the sub back to sea. One of his pilot-in-training dives was the first time Alvin passed 4,500 meters.”
The pilot-in-training program begins with studying all aspects of the sub and training dives under supervision. When candidates are ready to go up for certification they appear before a board of current Alvin pilots, a science review panel made up of NDSF science users, a technical review panel of WHOI Engineers, and the U.S. Navy Deep Submergence Pilot Certification Board, which is run by the commodore of Submarine Development Squadron 5 (currently Captain Gary Montalvo). Sanger passed his certification in October 2022 and O’Sadcia in January 2023.
In addition to driving the sub, Alvin pilots maintain the sub, whether it is their dive day or not. “The culture we have for this whole group is that everything you do for the sub really matters,” Strickrott said. “But once you start diving, the importance of all that work really hits home. Both Rick and Nick are people who really care about that culture. They both did really well in the certification process.”
Sanger is Alvin’s 44th pilot and the 67th civilian to receive deep submergence pilot certification from the Navy. O’Sadcia is Alvin’s 45th pilot and 68th in navy certification.
Interested in becoming a future Alvin pilot?
The Alvin Group is hiring a Mechanical Engineer and an Electrical Engineer, both of whom will have the opportunity to join the pilot-in-training program. “We are actively seeking candidates from diverse backgrounds,” Strickrott added. “We are looking for people who have the skills and aptitude for this work—who like to take things apart and fix them—not necessarily the degree.”